Winter is Hard for This Motorcyclist

The 2016 motorcycle season ended for me on November 1st when I buttoned-up the K75 in Cranston, RI and flew back to Olympia. It was a good year for bike traveling (23,000 miles mostly west of the Rockies) but not a great one as several trips were cut short due to work, weather and family stuff.

In November, as the winter gloom and rain moved into the pacific northwest, I hunkered down in the warm house and caught-up on Adventure Motorcycle Radio podcasts and unread motorcycle forum threads while the new KLE650 trickle-charged out back. Oh, how nice it would be to live in sunny southern California where the weather always welcomes the motorcyclist!

A smattering of work delivers distraction, and the winter solstice and holidays pass, but still the months-long absence of two-wheeled travel is cutting a hole in my heart that hurts. Motorcycle withdrawal has set in. Day dreams of next year’s riding interrupt duties and downtime. Where to go? Who to visit? Can I make motorcycle traveling lucrative?

I should explain that last bit. Traveling is unquestionably rewarding for me. It clears my cluttered mind and kindles creativity. After a week of fresh air and extremes on the road my brain wakes up and changes gears. The road is emotionally gainful, but can I turn it into a business? I’m working on it. But back to my whining…

To be clear, it’s not the riding I miss most in winter. The cold and wet makes riding up here uncomfortable but not impossible and plenty of Washington riders continue to commute through the winter. Traveling by bike is more than just riding. The bike invites connection and encourages exploration. It opens doors to conversations and sometimes relationships like nothing else. A solo motorcycle traveler is seldom lonely. Every fuel stop, cafe and campground brings new introductions and stories. But not in the winter.  Those interactions are what I miss in winter… and the twisty mountain roads.

Winters off the bike do have some advantages. There’s time for maintenance, ordering parts, researching new gear and planning for the next season. I’ve added a spare clutch cable and air filter to the KLE’s panniers, installed a high-viz rear LED light bar, and added a couple of Horizons Unlimited meetings to the calendar. It’ll probably be February before the rubber meets the road. Which reminds me, I need to wear these OEM Dunlop tires down soon so I can switch to Shinko Ravens.

In the meantime I’ll need to be patient, I suppose. The world is warming but the best PNW roads will still be coated with mossy slickness for a while.