Singing (Off-Key) In The RainPosted: January 17, 2010
Got crapped on by the Weather Gods yesterday evening on the way home from work. It’s been steadily raining all day, moderately heavy. The kind of rain that shows up light to dark green on the sat map the weather frogs give us to look at when we’re curious about outside conditions. Dark and wet and rainy: my favorite combo; it could only be worse if it had also been cold, but I lucked out: it was comparatively warm at 48˚ Fahrenheit around 18:30hrs. I decided to shove my iPod Shuffle into my waterproof breast pocket on my riding jacket, instead of its accustomed place in the front pocket of my mil-spec hi-viz vest. Didn’t want it to get wet, even though I do have a two-year replacement warranty on it. That was a mistake. As I roll along the Interstate, at about 70mph indicated; I guess that would be in the neighborhood of 63mph actual… I need to get that fixed. I hate subtracting 9.9% in my head… well, I do round up, but it’s a nuisance. Why do they do that? It’s another one of those stupid things corporations do in the name of… what? Politics? Lawsuit prevention? Gentlemen’s Agreements? Meh. Fuck you, Suzuki! I don’t need some corporate joker or dumbass politician saving me from my perceived idiot self, I can manage that on my own, thank you very much. I value the (dying) concept of personal responsibility. Harleys have accurate speedos… why can’t imports? It’s another one of those things that I need to rectify as a matter of principle. Add that one to the list of derestricting the bike, and replacing the top triple clamp with something that has holes in it big enough to slide fork tubes through. * crosses arms in front of her chest * I’ve had my say. Rant complete.
Anyway, shoving that Shuffle down my coat wasn’t a good idea as I am about to find out. Apparently the chest strap of my backpack is hitting the buttons on the inline control module when I move. The first indication of bad-idea-ness comes in the form of a voice-over announcing the song currently playing. Hot Doggie! It enunciates German properly. Cool beans! Kudos to Apple, I suppose. Then the volume gradually rises, one bump at a time. Ohoh! I try to remember if I have the volume limiter set and I think I do, but I set it with the Apple earbuds and I’m wearing my Big Ears now… Oh crap! It’s really blasting my eardrums now. I can’t hear anything anymore! The world has drowned in a German ‘80s Punk Rock song. I debate on whether or not to pull over to fix it. I quickly dismiss the idea, since that would mean having to stop and taking one of my gloves off, in the pouring down rain. And when one stops on a faired sportbike, the water droplets that usually get pushed up the sleeves and blown off have a chance to make their leisurely way down your arm and into your previously dry gloves. I get enough of that at the red lights. I try to adjust the chest strap, but don’t really know whether to go up or down with it. I don’t experience any more volume increases or voice-overs, so I either guessed right and moved the strap in the proper direction or my little iPod has reached its noise limiter. Either way, I’m definitely down with that.
I hate Gordon Highway in the dark when it’s raining. The entire road looks weird. It looks as if there’s standing water everywhere, but I’ve been down this road so many times, it’s just the coloration of the asphalt, something about the texture, and it tends to show up in the wheel tracks mostly. It’s also smooth in spots and water and light refracting off its surface makes it look ominous. But who’s to say that some of these areas haven’t actually collected enough water to make for a nice hydroplaned sideways trip to the hospital? When I have to concentrate and be at the top of my game, I either talk to myself or sing out loud into my helmet, depending on the skill level required of the task at hand. For instance, I talk myself through unfamiliar twisties; I sing in the rain, off-key I might add. I sing in heavy traffic when I’m engaged in what I refer to as ‘combat commuting’. I can’t sing worth a hoot. My singing voice is so embarrassing, I stop singing at red lights for fear the cager next to me might hear me. Anyway, I’m almost to my turn-off, I’ve already decelerated to 45/55 in preparation to get into the right turn lane that will open up shortly. I’m in the right lane, nobody behind me, somebody’s passing me in the left lane, and there’s a car waiting to pull out up ahead. I don’t see a turn signal, so he must be going right. As soon as I notice him, he pulls out in front of me. Asshole! I get on the front brake. Hard squeeze, release, hard squeeze. I am unsure of myself. A fleeting thought of doubt rears its ugly head and sticks it through the mental formulation of my escape plan. My body wants to tense, but I order it not to. Stay smooth, relax. Stay smooth, relax. The passing car is out of my way and the left lane is clear. I’m in the left wheel track and the emergency has left this situation, other than the would-be frustration of having to miss my turn and going straight. But I don’t have to evade. I manage to slow down to the car’s speed before I even get close to kissing his bumper. I opt to hold my position and give the asshole the finger instead; not that he can see me, it’s dark, my headlights are on, and he’s probably not even aware I’m even behind him. Had it been dry I would have swerved, gassed it, and swerved back over, cutting his inattentive little tail off while initiating a hair-raising right turn, and giving him the single-digit salute with my left hand all the way through it, in a blatant display of my utter dissatisfaction and as the perfect excuse to get my kicks in and my lean on at an intersection. I may have done that… if it had been dry… and daylight. Traffic was light, favorable; it was the perfect setting. Had it been dry… and daylight… DAMN!
However, this whole mess revealed to me one VERY IMPORTANT deficiency in my riding skill set: My crap weather skills are not up to snuff. They are not honed to the point where reactions are automatic and spot on. I need to work on that. Seriously. This just won’t do.