Riding the cold temperatures can be a bitch, but somehow I've been able to deal with it.
I mean, OK, I don't exactly get much opportunity to ride in very cold temperatures considering this is San Diego County. It's not like Minnesota or something. Most of us riders here stay in the lower elevations where the coldest it gets is in the lower 40s. And much of that area is in south east county, way out in the "Rez".
It's no wonder why the U.S. Government moved all the Indians out there. It's always cold, windy, mountainous, and the ground is full of rocks. White man can't really do much with it. Yet the natives managed to find a way to survive thanks to casinos and a State Law that gives them exclusivity on gambling.
And so when those of us in San Diego decide to head east into the warmer climates of the desert, we have to endure the miserable cold, windy, mountainous, and rocky netherparts of the Rez.
I watched the air temperature gauge on my Honda ST1300. As the elevation reached 4,000 feet along Interstate 8, and we got closer to the cloud layer, the numbers dropped. 50 degrees F. 46 degrees. 43 degrees. 41 degrees.
I looked in my mirrors for Sash to see if she was still behind me. Yup, she was. She'd actually pull up next to me a few times and gave an "OK" sign with her fingers. We had gotten through the coldest part of the trip, passing the Golden Acorn Casino, where all the windmills are.
It was 41 degrees F. At 80mph, the wind made it feel like 20.
And then I realized Sash was wearing her summer gloves the whole time. I felt worried for her. Her fingers must have been aching.
Myself, I had on only my leather jacket and winter gloves. Otherwise, I was riding in t-shirt and jeans.
Unprepared? No, I expected it. Crazy? Yeah, a little. Do I like to punish myself? Actually, there's some of that too.
But much of it is my own demons. It's the voices of my mother, father, kids I grew up with, and old co-workers, either writing me off as eccentric, telling me that I can't do it, or relegating me to the more remedial tasks. I often overextend myself to other people just to get their praises. These days I throw myself into the fire just to prove that it's all just demons.
My therapist says that it's a dissociative disorder. That throughout my growing up, my mother insisting I keep my mouth shut and stop my whining over the threat of physical punishment, I learned to keep my feelings bottled up and hidden down deep. I feared her anger, the swat of her stick and the solitary confinement of the closet, that I learned to remain in my intellect, cut off from my emotions.
It's the emotions that make the bitter cold so unbearable. The more you whine and cry about it, the more traumatizing it becomes. Granted, there's a temperature point where the body will go into shock. But the mind can still overcome the pain in the process.
I intellectualize the cold by looking at the temperature gauge and know that it's still not cold enough for frostbite to set into my fingers. That gives me confidence to push on despite the chilling ache in my hands. I tell myself that shivering like this will boost my metabolism and help me burn fat.
And in some strange twist, I now look forward to riding in the cold. There's comfort in that old familiar feeling of solitude, staying in my head and removed from my heart, and some warped idea that I'll become a better man and burn a couple pounds of fat in the process.
Ironically, I felt relieved, even if I wasn't feeling anything for myself.