The Pacers, the Ice Queen, and the Bubble GoosePosted: January 9, 2010
This is probably overstating reality, but I don’t know if I could claim that this commute falls into the ‘still better than caging it in’ category. I knew it was going to be cold, it was around 34˚ F when I left the house. Low 30s is manageable, I’ve done it plenty of times before. I don’t like it, but it’s really no biggie in the great scheme of things. Uncomfortable? Yes. Still better than caging? Yes. Would I rather not? Yes. It’s a mixed bag. The forecast predicted a low of 18˚ F, and the hour-by-hour had it pegged around 20˚ F for the morning commute home. That had me a little worried. At least it wasn’t threatening to rain (or snow, as it would manifest in this case). I had recently discovered that my two-piece leather suit seems to keep me warmer than the textile gear I’m wearing when commuting to work. I opted to wear it instead. Yeah, I look like a dork rolling down the Interstate in full race gear, but who cares. It is better protection than my commuter garb by a generous margin. Anyway, when I hit Gordon Highway, which is a four-lane divided highway, I get treated to an episode of ‘The Pacers’. Why? Because people around here still don’t know how to drive. I’m behind these two cagers, and I get on over into the left lane, since the vehicle on that side is slowly gaining on the one in the right lane in a freakishly slow attempt at a pass. No biggie. We are going speed limit, and we are making progress. Still it is painfully slow. Something happens, though. As soon as I take up position in the left lane, slightly offset, the car in front of me ceases his passing maneuver. Now they’re pacing each other. This goes on for about a mile before I lose patience and take the next opportunity to split between them and am gone. This pisses me off. One of my road-rage inducing pet peeves. It’s almost like a slap in the face. Yeah, I get it. You’re both using your cruise controls. Yeah, I get it. You’re both preoccupied with your phones, nose hair, makeup, sports page, etc. But damn! Shit or get off the pot. Either speed up, complete your pass, then go back to the inattention you were previously engaged in or better yet, slow your silly ass down and get in line behind the other moron who’s had the audacity to select the same speed as you on his cruise control. Which also doesn’t make sense, because you WERE passing him, weren’t you? At one point, the asshat in front hindered your preoccupied progress and you made the unconscious decision to go around. What happened? I mean really. Don’t you people know that this is highly unsafe behavior even for cagers? Can’t fix stupid, I suppose. Let Darwin sort this out. However, I don’t have to participate. Get out of my way. Yeah, stuff like that always makes me very happy. But I digress into the profane to express my extreme dissatisfaction with your lack of driving skill. I do 90 indicated for a few seconds to get some distance between me and the rolling speed bumps and slow back down to speed limit +5. Next thing I know, I see both of them catching up in my mirrors. First one, then the other. WTF? Mr. Incomplete Pass is gaining on me rapidly and is actually passing me, at a moderate clip. Oh. You found your gas pedal. I’m excited for you. Kudos. But really? What the hell… Did I wake your ass up and pissed you off enough to risk one of Georgia’s new additions to the High Performance Awards: the Super Speeder Category? Well, you’re nominated, and so is the clown who’s now glued to my tail pipes. I give it a little of the ol’ twist just to show him that I prefer a greater following distance, but he wastes no time to catch back up. A little more tail pipe raping and then he decides he’s had enough and passes me, ever so slowly. Apparently I’ve made two new friends this morning. Ha! Up yours. They leave me behind and I can continue unmolested at my merry way to work.
I get there, I decide I’m not going to go to the restroom to change into my jeans, but to do it right there at my desk. Nobody here. I’m wearing UnderArmour. There’s nothing to see here, even if somebody walked in on me. So I slip out of my leathers and try to put on the pair of jeans I’ve grabbed out of my closet at home and stuffed into my backpack. I have one foot still in my leathers, while I’m trying to put on my jeans. I think they’ve shrunk, or I’ve gotten fatter over the holidays, or the UnderArmour tights are hindering the process of gaining enough slippage, probably a combination of all three. So here I am, one leg up to the knees in jeans, while I trip over the shin armor of my leather bottoms, while lifting up my leg in an attempt to insert it into hole #2. Shit. I barely catch myself, regain balance and, as luck would have it, land right in the uncooperative jean leg I’m currently battling. Now I’m half-squatted, on my tip-toes, hunched over like a fat girl version of Ghost Rider on an invisible sportbike, trying to get the waistband of those blasted lowriders over my JLo-sized butt cheeks, which – I am sure of it — are hanging out the back like two bowling balls in a hammock swing. I look up and I see a driver looking at me through my inbound window. Drat! I hobble on over, with jeans still at half-mast, across my office, turn on the mic and flatly state: “Of course, you would sneak up on me like that, just to catch me with my pants down.” He cracks up laughing. Which isn’t hard, since he probably already has a bloody lip from biting on it to stifle a salvo of the snickers. I want to beat him with my knee pucks. It never fails. Oh well, I play it cool, check him in, give him his paperwork and send him on his way, hoping he’ll get lost on site and I’ll get to sic security on his laughing little ass! Strip search, baby, strip search! Teach me just to grab a pair of jeans without looking at them first; just like the day when I had to wear my daughter’s size 0 rue21’s which I had mistaken for my size 4 Bongos. That made my day though, because I fit. Barely, but I fit. 😉 I treated myself to Ben & Jerry’s that night…
He does make me feel better when he comes to the outbound side and tells me that I made his day, and he really needed a good laugh after the crapper of a day he’s been having. I tell him that he’s welcome and that this is just another service we provide down here in Augusta, Georgia. He’s impressed with my ‘Busa, too. So all is forgiven. =D
Fast forward. It’s about 12 hours later, and I’m gearing up to go home. I’m dreading having to go out there and brave the coldest mother of all mornings I’ve yet to experience on my bike. I think my record so far stands at 28˚ F, or something very close to that. 18 degrees… I shiver just thinking about it. I’ve been cold all night long. I’ve had the thermostat cranked up to 80, but the highest it ever climbed was 76. I had a little space heater blow hot air in my face, trying to stay warm. It felt like my core never quite got back up to its proper operating temperature. I’m anemic, maybe my blood pressure is low. That’s what N., a coworker, suggested. She’s also anemic, and that’s what goes on with her when she can’t seem to get rid of the chills. I should check it when I get home. Anyway, I’m getting my gear on and I think it’s a good idea to just leave my tight ass skinny jeans on under my suit. The more layers the better, right? I should have gotten a clue when I noticed that my knee/shin armor was riding a little high. Another clue should have been gotten for the fleeting thought of not quite having the usual amount of circulation in my feet. Another hint was thrown when I had a really tough time to get the boots zipped up, and when it took a little grunting and sweating to get that accomplished. Clue #4 arrived in the fact that I couldn’t quite bend my knees as usual and my feet started getting tingly. I was beginning to sweat, so I stepped outside to prevent my body from perspiring. I didn’t want to start sweating and then have it evaporate. No thanks. That was a big mistake. I should have just turned the thermostat down to 70, which I did. I got the chills again, so I put on my jacket and zipped the two halves together. I was ready to go when N., who was relieving me, showed up. I decided to get fully dressed inside before leaving. That was one of the better ideas my tired, bored, and underworked brain came up with this morning. I had developed a headache one hour before I was to leave, took an Advil and guzzled a Diet Coke for the caffeine. Didn’t help. I was really dreading the ride home. I badged out, walked to my bike, took the cover off, stashed it in my backpack and cranked her up. After throwing a leg over, I notice that either The Fat Lady had grown an inch or I’ve shrunken over night. Crap. What the hell? Then it hit me. Those damned jeans. I should have taken them off, I knew better, but I ignored all the signals. I could go back inside and change… Nope… I’m already here, I’m tired and I want to go home! I’ll just have to manage on my tippy toes. I ease out the clutch and slowly pull out of my parking space and find that I am unable to get my damned feet up on the rearsets. Crap!!! I’m glad it’s dark and there’s nobody around to see me, because I must be looking like the wicked drag racer from hell, with my feet stretched out behind me, struggling to gain enough leverage with my upper body to hoist those puppies up far enough to get them on the pegs. I finally manage and stand up, stick my butt way up in the air to stretch everything out a little. I friction-zone it on down the drive to time the traffic just right, I don’t want to put my feet down again. I succeed and utter a sigh of relief. This is going to be interesting to say the least. I have eight traffic lights ahead of me on my way home. The wind is biting. I get unlucky at traffic light #3 and have to wait. I tilt the bike and just put my left leg down. This seems to work slightly better, since I can scoot my left cheek off the edge of the seat to gain more slack for movement. I really do feel like a kid in a snowsuit. If I fall over, I don’t think I could get back up. I hate being bundled up and restricted in my movements. Always have. I used to not wear long sleeves for that same reason. I get on the loop and try to settle into some semblance of a comfortable position. No go. I end up sitting practically on the tank, with my back hunched over so I can still hide my torso behind the wind screen. This makes my neck hurt, since the angle is all wrong. The edge of the fog-free lens insert is now right in my line of sight. I’m getting cold. I can feel the warmth slowly leaking from my chest. This is not good, the core gets cold the fingers and toes will be ice cubes in short order. I duck back down, cringing at the pain that it causes in my neck and shoulders. I find myself staring at the ground in front of me, off and on, to relieve the neck strain, and have to make a conscious effort to force myself to look ahead. It hurts. I have to cut the wind chill so I slow down. I’m at speed limit now, and it’s amazing how much difference 5mph can make. I keep telling myself that I need to ride proactively. There’s no way I can muster the skill required to get myself out of trouble with my fingers increasingly getting colder and my mobility restricted as it is. I may not make it home. I may have to pull over and warm up somewhere. Gawd! I’m too tired for this shit! I make it to the cloverleaf ramp that will dump me onto Gordon Highway and take it like Granny on her Rascal scooter. I really don’t feel like leaning. Oh noez! Mark your calendars, ladies and gents: Miss Busa does NOT feel like leaning. I had a car catch up to me… how embarrassing is that?!? Miss Busa is holding up traffic on a ramp! Ha! I get on Gordon Highway, get lucky at all three traffic lights, and notice a marked increase in wind chill. This road always feels colder than I-520 for some reason. Maybe it’s accumulative, maybe it’s the road surface, whatever, this road is freaking cold! My fingers are starting to hurt. I keep catching myself looking at the odometer, counting down the miles I have to go until I can park this rig and get under my blanket, a duvet, and the heating pad. I’ve already have this planned out. I’m tired of freezing my ass off and waking up cold. I want to wake up sweaty and cozy. I’m all caught up in my frozen reverie when I get treated to yet another episode of ‘The Pacers’. Not again. An annoying rerun of yesterday evening, really. It’s too cold for this shit. Same crap as before, my patience is fairly thin in my current hypothermic condition and I have to fight the impulse to just white-line it between the two. I really have to fight. I almost do it, too. For some reason this seems like a really good idea right now. Never is, though. I don’t squeeze by them when they’re even. They have to be offset for me to squeak on by. These jokers, though, they take the cake. These guys don’t seem to want to pass each other. I flash my brights at the pickup truck in front of me. Maybe I can wake his ass up. No luck. He keeps even with the car to the right of him. This goes on for about two miles. I’m riding the white line behind the two of them, all the while giving them a helmet lecture on their lack of driving ability. There is also occasion for some moderately mild name-calling. I finally get my offset and rip on through. Again, same thing as before. I keep up $200 worth of speed until I have a nice lead and settle back down to speed limit. Damn! That was cold! But now I’m warmed by the heat of my anger. Again, they both speed up and catch up with me. At my turnoff, one follows me into town, the other goes straight. I’m too cold to even care. I’m getting quite leery when he stays behind me for several turns, though. When I get to my street, I already have formulated a plan. If he follows me onto my street I’m going straight to the copper’s house, park it, and give him an earful with the invitation to let the Popo sort it out for us. Lucky for him, he is not following me, but he knows now what neighborhood I live in and it isn’t that hard to figure out which house belongs to Miss Busa. Ah, who cares? It was probably just a coincidence anyway. My frozen brain is getting paranoid. I park The Fat Lady without much grace, and as I put her Bike Barn cover down over her I notice how badly my fingers hurt. I’m also shivering all over. I can’t enter the code at the door correctly, and I’m getting frustrated. I claw at my gloves to get them off to be able to hit the buttons on the number pad correctly. The pain is almost unbearable. I manage to finally let myself in and can barely get my helmet off. The pain is so bad I drop to my knees, trying to shove them under my armpits, which I can’t reach due to being restricted by too many layers. There is no good place to put them. Everything is cold! I think of running hot water over them as I wreathe around on the floor in pain. Bad idea… I override the impulse… and I just lay there, curled up and have myself a little tearless girly cry of pain. This is almost as bad as giving birth. No it’s worse. I had anesthesia then… I just want the pain to go away. I finally manage to free myself of my backpack, and slowly get out of my gear. Every touch hurts. I leave a string of motorcycle apparel behind me as I make my way down the hall and to my bedroom, grab the heating pad and duvet on my way and make myself a nest. My final thought: “Screw this shit, I’m taking the cage tonight!” I fall asleep not long after that.
I broke down and spend more money (even though I haven’t completed my list) on Gerbing heated glove liners and a temp controller (they didn’t have the vest in XS, so that’ll have to wait). Set me back $200 incl. S&H. The price of a High Performance Award in the Super Speeder Category. I have earned it. I was going speed limit, after all. Yes, you heard right. For the first time in Miss Busa’s 8-month romp with The Fat Lady, we were actually going the speed limit more than we were not. That’s a milestone, I think I award myself a level-up for that. =P