Sash began to cry as marble-sized hail began to bounce off her hands and thighs as we rode down Highway 64 through New Mexico. But we were already well out of town and couldn't turn back. We kept our speed to about 40mph as chunks of ice fell from the sky and pinged off our helmets and leather jackets.
And for awhile, I wondered if I had the made the right decision to keep moving. I mean, I could see blue sky in the horizon, I knew if we kept moving we'd be out of the storm.
In fact, I had never wanted to stop in Cimarron the first place. Yet, Sash felt it necessary to put on rain gear. It wasn't really raining all that much at the time, and I knew if we kept moving we'd be out of it. But as she took the time put on her Frog Togg pants, the storm caught up to us.
"Look, it's hailing." I said.
She assumed we'd just stay put and wait it out.
But I was still of the mindset that if we kept moving, we'd be out of the storm. For some reason, I just didn't want to wait this out. Perhaps that little boy inside me wanted to prove a point, that we could have been in the clear if we didn't stop. Had my intellect stayed in control, we would have waited it out.
So off we rode, and Sash elected to ride too.
It was like a swarm of bees crashing into our helmets and jackets at 80mph, pinging and panging like a bucket of golf balls being poured on to a concrete floor.
Ice was hitting my hands as they held on to the handlebar grips, and they hurt, even just riding at 40mph. I was taking hits to the thighs as well. Those that hit my helmet or jacket didn't hurt, but still made as much noise, and I could still feel their impact.
About 5 minutes riding through the hail storm, I spotted three guys riding Harleys coming the other way. They didn't have helmets, and they didn't have gloves, and they were getting pelted as much as us.
And here, my intellect was kicking in, telling me what a dumb decision it was to ride in the hail, when I spot other riders toughing it out even more than Sash and I. Somehow, it justified my decision, and put the whole storm into perspective.
I mean, we have full face helmets, waterproof gloves, heavy leather jackets, rain pants, and steel toed waterproof boots. And yet, we're going to stand under an awning and wait it out? Then why the Hell did we buy all this gear if we're just going to be fair-weather riders? What kind of a six-month motorcycle trip is this? Where's the character-building?
"And I used to be afraid of riding in the rain", Sash told me later. "But after the hail stopped, I was relieved to just have rain."
Nothing like riding in hail to make you appreciate riding in the rain.
The same was true for me about riding on gravel. After my Honda ST was sloshing left and right over a muddy road in Alaska, I was ever so relieved when the road turned to gravel and I regained traction. And to think, there was time when I was afraid to ride my Harley on gravel.
|Sash, after she conquered the hail storm.|
And that's really what perspectives are about. Facts are meaningless without the human experience.
You can ride an 800 pound Harley-Davidson on a very tight-twisting road and feel overwhelmed by it, but later switch to a 375 pound Ninja 250 and find that it's piece a cake.
Life's experiences makes a huge difference too. You could have grown up taking great measures to avoid accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and then find yourself quite fearful of dropping a motorcycle. But you could have also grown up crashing your skateboard, crashing your bicycle, crashing your dirt bike, and not think anything of it to drop your Harley.
And so perspectives is why some of us wear a chartreuse yellow riding suit versus a black leather jacket. It's why we decide to ride in the hail versus waiting it out under a bridge. There is no right or wrong on what we do. Our perspective is what makes us feel safe about our decisions, and if we have that confidence in ourselves, then we've already won half the game of motorcycle safety.