Countersteering: It's still raining


When I get to the gym today, someone will say something like, "Aren't on your bike today, huh?" It's not really a question; it's a statement. There's just a touch of irony in the voice. Of course, all those guys grunting loudly and lifting over 600 pounds, the ones with all the motorcycle decals on their trucks, never ride their machines to the gym.

"Nope, not today." I'm trying the gym again to see if I can slow the sagging. I have to put the tattoo somewhere. Yep, as a modest cri de coeur, I've decided to get a tattoo for my 70th this summer. It's not going to be "MOM," and definitely not barbed wire around my bicep, which has all the tone of a collapsed soufflé. What I've decided on is sort of an existential metaphor for life in general: a dung beetle rolling its ball of dung. You know, Sisyphus had his boulder, so I'll have my dung ball.

Anyway, where to put it (the tattoo)? I'll see if anything firms up. So far, both of my delicate shoulders hurt, and I can feel something in one of them like a taut bungie slipping on a smooth surface. Back hurts, too. Mallory said, "You'll take it easy, right?".

But here we are in the rain again. That's the way it's going to be all week. So yet again, the spring circulation across the U.S. is blocky and stuff doesn't move. Ten days ago, the high over us with its constant sun, stayed put, too. So I really have to stifle the moaning.

And I admit it: when it's possible, I'm a fair-weather rider. So, no, I won't ride the machine to Brattleboro today to do my grocery shopping and workout. I have a "cage" (motorcyclist's pejorative for car) that I quite like when it rains, snows or hails Just between us chickens, hail is another reason to wear a helmet ... tho it's really noisy in there during a storm.

But there are times when one just has to ride in rain or other funky weather. Usually it's because you're on some kind of road trip and you're part way from A to B. The great joy of motorcycling is that the "part way" is just as good, or even better than either A or B. Last summer I raced out the door and heading to the Gaspe because all the weather people were unanimous: big bubble of high pressure at the surface and the same aloft. I had only a half day of drizzle in eight days.

But any trip in the east that involves more than a few days will probably include rain. When I'm riding in the rain and a car passes me, they look at me as if I need a competency intervention. But riding in the rain isn't all that bad. Really. Even I, the least mindful person I know, assume a kind of quiet, even contemplative acquiescence when a semi, hell bent for some big warehouse somewhere, blows by. The wind shock from that is a whole lot more eventful than the spray.

Today's rain gear is pretty good, and to complete the ensemble they even make (waterproof) gloves with a squeegee on the left thumb. That squeegee is mostly fluff because the wind usually clears the visor (on my full face helmet) just fine. I don't know about those New Hampshire riders without helmets? Maybe a plastic bag does the trick, but it might be tough to breathe in there.

All of this gets me back to today. Over the course of six or seven months, I will ride to Brattleboro at least eighty times, so I can probably skip a trip on a rainy day. To be honest, it's not so much the wet as it is getting half of the dirt on Ames Hill off of the slimed motorcycle.

Bob Engel lives in Marlboro with his motorcycles, wife, and cat.


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