On New Year’s Eve I got an invitation from a fellow forum member to join him on a street ride to the Tail of The Dragon. Both of his bikes were in the shop, but it was looking like a day with good weather so he rented a BMW RT1200 so he could take advantage of the weather. Our plan was to meet up at 9:00 AM and get in a solid days ride.
Here’s our proposed route:
View Headed to the Dragon in a larger map
Our meeting place was over an hour from my house so I got the FJR ready the night before and I rolled out of my driveway at 7:45 AM. The high that day was 51F, but when I left my driveway it was 26F. It was COLD! I knew before I got out of my neighborhood that this ride was going to be a challenge. My usual cutoff for temperature is 38F, but I was excited to take a ride up there so I went for it.
About 20 minutes from my house my buddy calls and informed me that the battery on the rental bike is dead. He is closer to the meeting place than I am so I decided to keep heading that way as he tried to get the battery worked out.
I took the back roads on the way up there. The roads and scenery were more interesting, but the most important thing is the speeds were lower. When I started out from my house I was wearing long underwear, fleece lined ski skirt, leather jacket, lined nylon jogging pants, riding pants with thermal liner, MX socks, Freeze Out socks, gloves, and helmet with chin skirt. I had to pull over and add my rain gear. That’s all I had for another layer. Even with all of that on it was still cold! I was even running my grip heaters and I had my electric windshield adjusted up pretty high.
I arrived at the store we were meeting at and all I could think of was a hot breakfast at their restaurant and some coffee. I normally do not drink coffee while riding, but today was going to be the exception. I walked in the store and started shedding layers and I saw that the restaurant was closed. My hopes of a hot breakfast had been dashed. I ended up with a PayDay candy bar and a Mountain Dew instead.
My buddy called while I was waiting and informed me that he hasn’t had any luck getting the battery sorted out so he wasn’t going to make it. Now, I have a decision to make. Do I continue on with a solo ride in the very cold mountains or just call it a day and head home? I sat at the store eating my breakfast of champions and considering the temperatures. Ultimately, I decided to call it a day. Riding the Dragon would have been great fun, but being cold for hours and heading to higher elevations just wasn’t sounding all that appealing. Not to mention, I was out kind of late the night before hanging out with some friends and I was still a bit tired.
On my way home I decided to take it easy and just enjoy the hills and curves of the back roads. I have travelled this route many times and I always see a sign for Campbell's Covered Bridge. I have always wondered what it really was. (Besides a covered bridge, for the peanut gallery)
By the time I got there I was needing a break to warm up again. I followed the sign and found the parking lot. Sure enough, it was an old covered bridge. Shocking, I know. It also had a nice park area with some walking trails and park benches. In the more moderate times of year it would probably be a good place for a picnic or to let kids play in the creek for a while.
As I was leaving I saw a Goldwing pulling in and I decided to pull my ear plugs back out and say hello. We talked bikes for a bit and traded some local road tips and then we went our separate ways. I headed back home mildly disappointed, but excited to get a hot shower. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my wife and little boy. Even though I didn't get to ride much it was still a good day.
What I Learned:
- When temps drop below freezing, I would suggest heated gear.
- Rain gear might be really thin, but it does help when it gets really cold.
Psalm 118:24 KJV "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
The plans for the day did not turn out the way I had hoped and the temperature was certainly a challenge. It’s easy to let a change in plans and disappointment ruin your day, but you will never get that day back. We all have a short amount of time on this big blue marble and it’s important to make the best of it. I didn’t get to ride to the Dragon, but I had a great day with my family instead. I will admit that I am bad about letting disappointment ruin my day, but not this time.