Monday, 15 June 2009

But now I smell the rain..and with it pain...and it's heading my way.....

What a day. Brilliant blue skies and warm temperatures plus a day off work means walk the dog for a couple of miles then hit the road. Airmesh jacket is the order of the morning - this is summer riding! A nice blast across the Vale and up a sweeping main country road for a fab bacon sarnie with HP sauce and a cappuchino in a great little bistro in a great little market town. A chat with a few local customers that included a retired couple who trade some freshly picked garden produce for a caffetiere coffee. I am also introduced to a friendly but slightly tense guy who shakes my hand firmly. I ask him if he is a postman (he had what looked like a Post Office issue blue shirt. "No, I don't work, but I sometimes get bread and other things for them here, if they need it". I am advised, discreetly, that he is Schizophrenic. Clearly, the meds were working today. Ready for the off, I check the sky and it is very, very dark in the West and heading my way. I am heading....West. I chug out of the town as the market in the cobbled square is in full swing. The Harley Davidson's familiar `potato-potato` rumble causes a few heads to turn. I keep the throttle gentle so as to keep folks happy - too big a twist and I'd have those parked up BMW car alarms sounding. That's why I don't ride with the Harley Owners Group - too many weekend cowboys with their very loud straight through pipes, I mean, these big bikes are `in your face` enough as it is, without making people wince. I see a small patch of bright weather on the horizon, a small oasis amongst a 99% black sky. I am in no hurry, I'll just aim for the bright weather and see where it takes me. 15 miles further on and it's cooler and breezier now. I can actually smell the rain in the atmosphere. One of the reasons I love motorcycling so much is that you can sense changes so much more acutely. I'm now rolling along the city by-pass, over the big river and into the flat lands that I must cross, 20 miles of it, before the terrain turns to high moors just beyond my home. Ten miles to my 2 0`clock a massive lightning bolt comes pretty much straight down. I can see rain coming down in a number of individual squalls, but it's still dry where I am. My bright patch of weather has now shifted too far to the South and I must edge South West to darker skies. Now on a minor road, I am bowling along at a steady 60. Traffic is minimal and I am swinging through the sweeping bends, but that storm is now right on my nose. Another huge flash of lightning about 4 miles ahead. Cars coming towards me have their headlights on and are clearly wet. I need to weigh a few things up. Do I stop in a pub and sit it out? How can I sit in a pub and not have a beer?? I don't drink when I'm on the bike, so thats out. I pick the brightest part of the sky, now back East from whence I came, but I'm closer to where I need to be and can dog-leg West again so I swing right, down another country road and skirt the edge of a famous battlefield from the first English Civil War (aka The War of the Roses), where Britain suffered its largest loss of life on its own soil. Some 30,000 men were killed here in just one days ferocious fighting, accounting for something like 1% of the entire population of the time - 1461. Wow. This is a special place. My diversion is not quite enough and I am suddenly aware of rain on my visor. I stop and pull on my rain jacket but I'm rolling again in under a minute, winding the bike up to 65 in quick time. On a Harley Davidson you don't ride the revs, you ride the torque. Owning a Harley taught me the value of torque over brake horsepower. It doesn't sprint like a howling banshee, it sort of thumps you in the back and powers you along , the `pa-dump, pa-dump, pa-dump` of the motor like the imaginary paws of a huge Grizzly pounding the ground. There is nothing quite like it. Bosh, a lightning bolt cracks down half a mile to my left. Sod this, I'm turning right whatever the road is. Another twisting lane through hamlets of grey stone houses and the odd farm building until I emerge on the trunk road I need. A sharp left and I'm cruising at 65 again, only now the rain is hammering into my visor and rattling on my clothing. Thanks to that ex US President's invention, I can feel the rain on my legs but I remain dry - I really rate that Ford-Tex stuff. Home at last, just as the storm lets rip over the house. There's our trusty pooch hiding under the chair - he hates thunder.

8 comments:

powdergirl said...

Sounds sensational, even with the rain. The rain brings such an incredible scent, I can never find it in myself to hate it.
The feeling of being inside your own walls just as it gets 'full-on' is one of my favorites. Feels like I'm getting away with something ; )
Glad, but not surprised to hear that you don't indulge in the cocktails when riding. Nothing worse as a motorist than to find yourself having to try really hard not to hit the weaving guy on the bike ahead of, then behind, then beside you. Scares all hell out of me, and it happens too often around here.

Blue Eyes said...

I got caught in the rain when I went for a quick stumble around the block. Nice big heavy monsoon drops, they were.

Ky Long Rider said...

After riding home last summer in a downpour and tornado like winds my dear wife was almost convinced I've taken complete leave of my senses. After this past weekend she has no further doubts. We attended a very unusual flea market and shoot in Friendship, Indiana. The only way back to our friends camp was to ford 2 fairly deep creeks the cars had been driving across. Well I took one look at the first creek and didn't even stop. About halfway across the 2-300 feet of the first creek with steam rolling off the engine and water splashing everywhere my wife shouted some endearing words I'll never forget; "You crazy bastard, you're going to get me killed". Odd words for a retired Chicago Swat officer but then again, I've never been accused of being completely sane.

Enjoy your rides.

Cpdcoppurr said...

He isn't sane, he isn't normal. Those THREE creeks, crossed TWICE were enough for me to put a patent on his ass that said, CRAZY........

I signed up for the job as a sniper and a Police Officer, and it paid well. Being a RETIRED Officer with no benefits, I am thinking to myself, "gee, this fucker is crazy, I want off this bike". Yup you guessed it, he went through without a hitch other then the engine catching a bit of water to help the "sexy" fog off the engine..........Growls...........The man will never learn!!!

Hogday said...

PG. When last in that town we both know in BC, I thought I saw quite a few well oiled businessmen dressed up as bikers:(

BE. It wasn't an adrenaline rush but it was a nice way to spend a few hours. Glad I'm not a Londoner any more (except when I visit or every time I open my mouth round here).

KyLR: Thankfully, tornado winds are rare around these parts. I knew I wasn't in Kansas any more!

CPd: Trust the Force! My dog is cool with the BMW but as soon as I fire up that ol` V twin he charges round to the garage and attacks the pipes. Guess you and he are a bit alike.

powdergirl said...

Yeah, I see them all the time, know some of them, sad to say.
A few lawyers and some with entirely different 'business interests'. Complete morons on two wheels, those guys. Give the real riders a bad name.
Go figure.

Henry North London said...

Airmesh? You have a cycleport jacket?

Hogday said...

Henry: Its a Joe Rocket "Phoenix", probably the most versatile motorcycle jacket I've ever owned. And reasonably priced too. Totally brilliant IMO.