Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warming up to winter riding

Warming up to winter riding
Pittsburgh Rides
Thursday, October 15, 2009
By Rocky Marks

A heated suit is a one-layer warm-up for the cold season.
Out of all of the women I met in my entire life, Mother Nature is probably the biggest tease of them all.

Over the past several weeks we've had temperatures from the 30s all the way up to the mid-70s. We've had everything from partly sunny skies to rain, and before you know it, we'll see flurries. On a good fall day in Pittsburgh, we can experience all of these in a 24-hour period and do it all over again the next day. It's very hard to predict what is going to happen later in the day let alone what's going on for the next five.

I'm a year-round rider. Riding in the fall and winter months is a little more complicated than riding in the summertime.

Living in Pittsburgh and riding in the fall means I have to carry clothing to support the cold, the rain and eventually the snow. My Tour Pack and saddlebags are filled with extra layers of clothes, several styles of gloves, a rain suit, rain boots, a pair of chaps for the slush, a pair of chaps for the cold, a face mask, a scarf, etc.

Even though my mom would be proud of how prepared I am for the elements, it is getting increasingly harder to keep a full wardrobe of outerwear in my bike.

This year I made the leap and traded in the outerwear that fills every square inch of storage that I have on my bike for something that is more sensible and takes up much less room. I picked up a heated suit that I can plug into my bike.

I remember being a little kid coming in for a cup of soup to warm up after riding my sled all morning. When it came time to make the decision on whether or not I wanted to go back outside, I would look at the layers of wet clothes, the hand-me-down snowmobile suit, and bread bags for my feet piled up and then I would look at the warm couch and TV. Back then, the choice was obvious.

Now that I'm older with kids of my own, I look back on those days, and I wish I could go back in time and get in those cold damp clothes and ride that sled until the streetlights came on just in time for another cup of mom's hot chocolate. Unfortunately, those days are gone.

There also will come a time in my life where I will be unable to ride. I don't want to reflect on my life and regret that I passed up riding time in my 30s because I was too cold or burdened by the amount of time and clothing that it takes to dress and undress so that I could ride in this weather.

That is why I picked up a heated suit. I want to make the most out of life every day, and if that means buying heated gear this winter instead of some chrome goodies, then it's worth it to keep me on the road and live life without regrets.

A heated suit also will give me more room in my saddlebags and it will give me a little extra time as I will only have to put one layer over my regular clothes.

I'm also toying with the idea of heated hand grips and a heated leather seat. Very tempting, but I think that's something I can put on my wish list for another holiday or birthday.

Right now, I want to get suited up and get out there and flirt with Mother Nature, and not give in to her cold temperatures while making memories with each extra mile that I can squeeze out of what life has to offer.

Rocky Marks is the operations manager for Hot Metal Harley-Davidson in West Mifflin and host of the weekly radio show "On the Road With Rocky" on 1250 AM WEAE.

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