Motorcycle Lessons Learned Today
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Motorcycle Lessons Learned Today

This is a discussion on Motorcycle Lessons Learned Today within the Motorcycles forums, part of the Other category; Well, it is supposed to hit 76 degrees here in Tulsa today followed by snow Monday. Having been comfortable while ...

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    Lightbulb Motorcycle Lessons Learned Today

    Well, it is supposed to hit 76 degrees here in Tulsa today followed by snow Monday. Having been comfortable while ridding my motorcycle to work in temps as low as 7 last week, I was reveling in the thoughts of such balmy temperatures today. As a result I made a few errors in judgment this morning that I thought you may appreciate (or at least relate to).

    The first error was to decide, after much thought, that while I would wear my thermal pants, a thermal shirt would not be necessary. This was not a mistake that would cost me dearly, but it did educate me as to the location of EVERY thread hole in the entire length of the front zipper. If Acupuncture is anything like this, I pass. Dozens of hot needles entered my sternum in a perfectly straight line in parallel rows EXACTLY 1 3/8 inches wide. If I close my eyes right now, I can still count how many stitches were used to secure the device into the lining of my riding jacket! While the shirt was bought at Academy Sports, I can tell you it was NOT designed for the “great outdoors.” The shirt’s thermal properties are something approaching R -30. Now do not read that figure as the garment having an insulating factor of thirty (R30), no it is meant to be read as having an insulating value of minus 30, or more clearly stated, whatever the outside temperature is minus thirty degrees. It was similar to wrapping an ice cube (me) in a toasty warm layer of dry Ice (the shirt)! I think the shirt was actually colder than the air temperature! There were some interesting “twists” to normal physics taking place. Those “twists” would continue to amuse me for the rest of the ride.

    The second error was looking down at my feet and deciding the slip on loafers would be all right. I always wear boots, and though it seemed odd to see my socks showing, it was going to be 76 right? Maybe eventually, but not this morning! As soon as I hit the road and reached 45 mile per hour, it suddenly felt like Kat Von D was tattooing the Sistine Chapel on BOTH my ankles from the top of my feet to the back of my calf. As Professor Gadget would say, “Wowzers!” It would have been much better to actually have Kat Von D doing the tattoo because I could have asked her to STOP, or could have run away under my own power. As it turned out, upon my arrival at the office, running away was simply out of the question since my ankles seemed to have a life of their own and they were definitely taking orders from something other than my brain! Did you ever sit on the floor too long with your legs folded underneath you? Have you ever had your feet go to sleep and have to wait until they responded to commands again? Imagine that feeling all the way up to your knees. I threw my leg up over the seat to get off the bike and immediately proceeded to stager across the parking lot like a drunken sailor. You can not imagine how difficult it is to go in one direction, while each ankle takes off on its own field trip. One ankle thought it would go for a walk around the parking lot and the other was on its way to who know where. I, on the other hand, wanted to head in the direction of the first available bathroom! All the while, my brain was totally out of the exercise having simply decided to sit back and see which leg would follow which ankle.

    The third error was deciding that the pullover that keeps my face covered and my goggles were “Over kill” for such a warm day. Wrong again! At speed, I had more water streaming out of my eyes than a half dozen harbor tugs at the christening of a luxury liner. It is amazing how fast tears can freeze on contact with a 20 degree wind blowing at 50 miles per hour! I was starting to look like one of those Japanese Snow Monkeys (they are Macaques - just to insert a little class to this post) by the time I was one mile down the road. My face felt like it was at the bottom of the annual “Burning of the Greens” where they ignite every dried Christmas Tree in Tulsa in one massive bonfire. Not a good sensation, and I think from this day forward, I will refuse to donate any more trees to this event! My lips felt like some deranged dentist had used every last syringe of Lidocaine in the office on both sides of my mouth. I could not imagine why my lips were not fluttering in the wind like the jowls of a St. Bernard sticking its head out the window of a NASCAR race car doing 200 miles per hour. I suppose, in retrospect it was because they were either frozen solid or secured down by the river of frozen tears!

    The fourth error was the decision not to use my new, heavy duty winter gloves given to me by my son as a Christmas present, in favor of my old, lighter gloves. After all, who wants to carry all that bulky stuff around on such a warm day? Never again will I question why some gloves cost so little and others cost so much! While I did not feel any specific entry point for the cold, by the time I reached the office my right hand had become something resembling the Disney character of Dr. Hook from Peter Pan. Like some of the equipment displayed on the TV show “Modern Marvels” my claw (hand) could have scooped coal out of a Chilean coal mine faster than a “Big Bertha” mechanical shovel powered by three 1000 horse power diesels. That is, if my ankles would allow me any movement, if I could stop drooling, if I could focus my eyes enough to see, and if I could actually make my lips form words to communicate!

    My final error was failing to take into account the very real physical effects of an extreme drop in core body temperature. For example, when faced with dropping body temperatures, the body will withdrawal most of the blood normally circulated to the outer limbs, but did you know that you can actually feel this happening? If you have ever sat and watched an hour glass, you have some visual idea of this process, and the actual sensation is quite similar I imagine. My blood retreated to my core faster than the water in a 150 foot water park death drop slide. While a water slide usually results in little more than a wedgie, the absence of ANY blood in the extremities results in something akin to what was happening to my lips, ankles and face. Another unanticipated result of the temperature drop, was an immediate contraction of my bladder into something resembling a pea and almost resulting in the same! Now I’m talking a dehydrated, split green pea half, not a full size, round, soft, garden pea. I would have jumped for joy if it had simply contracted to a garden pea, that is IF my ankles and legs could have cooperated, which they could not; nor could I cry for help without my tongue and lips cooperating. I could not have even scribbled a sign for help if I had been stopped at a light next to an RV with a fully equipped bathroom, since my frozen hands would have created something resembling the hieroglyphics in the Egyptian Valley Of The Kings but with no Rosetta Stone to assist in deciphering the incoherent scribble. Regardless of what you were taught in grade school or high school science, I can tell you from persona experience, that it is indeed a FACT, that you CAN compress water! I can also tell you (from this experience), that while you CAN compress water, you can NOT compress it for any sustained length of time, nor is it advisable to do it inside the human body!

    Upon completion of this post, I now realize that regardless of the sequential numbering assigned to the errors above, the first error I made today was actually not looking at the thermometer. Had I based my clothing choices on actual hard data, rather than dressing in anticipation of a rare, warm, sunny day in the middle of winter This entire experience could have been adverted. I can assure you that I will NOT make this mistake any time in the near future. After several hours, I have finally gained enough coordination to actually type this message, mumble some what coherently and feel my extremities. In just a few minutes, I will experiment with locomotion since my bladder that was previously pea sized, has greatly expanded to the size of my son’s first water balloon and I fear that any attempts to compress it again will not be successful. I have waited this long in hopes that my feet and my brain have reestablished some form of basic communications that will allow me to venture forth in one single direction.


    Ride safe, ride often, but ride WARM!



    Robert Breslin

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    Being a rider, I can truly appreciate this. Great story!

    For the record...My coldest ever day/night of riding is 28 degrees. Did it once and never again!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lavon View Post
    Being a rider, I can truly appreciate this. Great story!

    For the record...My coldest ever day/night of riding is 28 degrees. Did it once and never again!
    I do it everyday unless Ice or Snow is even mentioned in the forcast. The difference being that I usuall dress for it so it's not normally any big deal. I just got caught up in the thought of an actual 75 degree day and was not dressed for the CURRENT conditions

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    You definitely do not want to ride up here in MI, when you leave the house in the fall it may be 50 degrees and then drop to 36 by the time you head home in the evening..... I Keep all kinds of extra gear in the bags for such occasions.....
    "The sword dose not cause the murder, and the maker of the sword dose not bear sin" Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac 11th century
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    A GREAT story! I hope you don't mind if I pass it along to some of my riding buddies for their amusement.

    While I have no problem (emotional/intellectual) riding in the "cold" (>30's), I have the gear...and use it!...on those occasions: Neoprene mask, balaclava, fleece cap on top above several layers of bodywork covered in leather; thermals, jeans AND chaps on the bottom,and maybe double socks and proper gloves and boots. It's a shame you learned your lesson the hard way, but the good part is you're not likely to forget it...and it made for great reading!

    Thanks for sharing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ektarr View Post
    A GREAT story! I hope you don't mind if I pass it along to some of my riding buddies for their amusement.

    While I have no problem (emotional/intellectual) riding in the "cold" (>30's), I have the gear...and use it!...on those occasions: Neoprene mask, balaclava, fleece cap on top above several layers of bodywork covered in leather; thermals, jeans AND chaps on the bottom,and maybe double socks and proper gloves and boots. It's a shame you learned your lesson the hard way, but the good part is you're not likely to forget it...and it made for great reading!

    Thanks for sharing!
    yep, I let the spring fever get the best of me. I am usually ready for anything as I have "learned" this lesson many years ago. Guess it was time for a refresher! I lived in NJ for many years and got caught in an ice storm with 35 miles to go. No choice but to press on allbeit very slowly and far off the shoulder where I could maintain some traction

    Feel free to pass it on. This is a lesson I want others to enjoy with out experiancing it

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    Great story!!! Even if I'm dumb enough (hey, I'm not talking about YOU!) to leave all my warm stuff off, I try to at least pack it so I have a chance to repair my stupid choices before freezing to death ... I remember riding with a bunch of friends in the Sierra a few years ago ... it was a lovely morning when we left for breakfast, but at the top of the mountains (7k+ feet) it started to sleet!!! I had my wife on the back and decided to find another place to eat, turning around before we got to wet or icy pavement ... riding a bike is a constant series of decisions; make the wrong choice and it can be your butt ...
    "Neatness counts, but bullets often count more." Elvis Cole, World's Greatest Detective

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    When I started reading the OP, I figured it was going to be a story of someone going down...hard. Glad that wasn't the case!


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    I won't ride if it's anywhere near freezing. Rather not be in a situation where I would need to use my firearm with the cold weather gloves either.
    For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. - Carl Sagan .When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours - Stephen Roberts

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    I am not sure who said that the clothes make the man, but in this case it is the clothes that should be keeping the man safe from the cold when riding his motorcycle. Proper riding attire is important. Thanks for sharing this story.

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