In Need Of A Good Whooping!

I really need a kick in the pants!

Prosecution Exhibit A: An Exhausted Rain(wo)man!
I almost wrecked myself the other morning because I was exhausted from a rough night at work and hopped up on caffeine, but decided — for some odd reason — to ride it like I normally would when I’m well rested and mentally fit. Yes, I shouldn’t ride when I’m tired. But when you’re commuting, sometimes you have very little choice. I do, however, have the choice to ride with that in mind: To give myself more room, hold back on the speed, and proactively ride to stay out of developing trouble up ahead. Not that difficult, but – as with intoxication – sound judgment is the first thing to go. Well, technically it’s vision, but that would be splitting hairs. The thought of taking an uncomfortable, neck-kinking power-nap in the electrical room (it’s dark and warm in there) did briefly occur to me, but then was quickly dismissed in favor of getting the hell out of dodge to curl up in my bed and pass out.

I’ve had a crap night at work, I was operating on five hours of crappy, unrestful sleep, the kind that makes you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better just to stay up and pull an all-nighter instead. I hadn’t eaten but two bananas and some popcorn in close to 36 hours, was dehydrated, had a headache, and have had to cope with some human drama for the past three days. I was a freakin’ train wreck before I even showed up for my 12-hour shift and proceeded to get my ass kicked for roughly 10 of those. It rained on the way home. I couldn’t see shit; my Rain-X had done worn off or something, because the water just wanted to hang out in my field of vision. Arrgh. Traffic was hopping and I found myself surrounded by way too much sheet metal and the spray their tires kicked up wasn’t helping my vision either. It was one of those hypersensitive experiences. My senses were on fire, due to lack of sleep and everything was magnified: traffic noise, the glare of the headlights, the lights refracting off the wet pavement. Cacophony. Ick. I was mentally tense. I could literally feel it, nerves taught as steel cables, but still I rode it like I practically stole it. I made it almost all the way home without incident, until I made a right turn way too fast and realized that I missed seeing the pickup truck that was in the middle of his left turn onto the same piece of asphalt I had staked claim to. Ooops! Where the hell did he come from??? I got on the front brakes, hard, while wrestling The Fat Lady back to a more upright position, in hopes that this alteration of my line of travel would help avoid impaling myself into his broadside. It worked, and I found myself directly behind him, staring at his tailgate, practically hugging my side of the yellow line; but now he slowed even more to make an immediate right into the gas station on that corner. Shit! Not even the common courtesy of a damn blinker. At least I’m upright now and slower. Hell! More brake-grabbing and a baby swerve to the left later and I’m on my way. Good gawd, woman! I did say I wanted to practice my wet-pavement skills… there you have it. Guess I passed… But this time I had no doubts. I didn’t even really think about it, I just reacted. I took care of my business. The Fat Lady didn’t even complain; she did what she was told and no slippy-sliding annoying loss of traction, either.

However, I should not have been in the situation to begin with. I should have SEEN him! I should have been approaching SLOWER than I was. At least I was using my turn signal!

R__n? Some bikers don’t even like to spell it out, for fear that it brings upon us the apocalypse of massive amounts of water suspended in midair. Some don’t even wash their bikes anymore, because everyone knows that it will rain shortly after you’ve polished that chrome. I’ve always ridden in it, I had no choice. At first it was scary as hell, but slowly I learned and it was “nuttin’ but a thang”, a minor inconvenience. Not really enjoyable, but nothing to really worry about either, as long as you adjust your riding accordingly. In a way I’m glad this happened. I’ve gained my crap-weather confidence back that had been slipping ever so gradually over time. Don’t ask me why. No close calls, no nothing. Maybe it hadn’t been raining enough lately and my skills got (pardon the pun) rusty? It had almost gotten to the point that I didn’t want to really lean over on wet roads anymore and doubts had made their way into my riding. But all the trepidation aside, you’ll never catch me hanging out under an overpass. I think I’m over that now. When people ask me if I really ‘ride in this shit’, I can, once more reply with confidence: “Rain is just God’s way of giving us clean asphalt and 80% traction.” Well, sort of…

Prosecution Exhibit B,C,D,…: Seafood Of The Roadfaring Kind
I have also come to the realization that my style is in the crapper. I’m riding like a damn squid more often than not, and that little factoid just crept up on me and it took some serious introspection to admit it to myself, too. Then there’s the added annoyance of having a kink in my riding that I haven’t been able to work out, as of yet. But kinks aside, my riding lately is worthy of an Honorary Mention in the Darwin Awards… honorary only, because I haven’t managed to wreck myself just yet. Geez… I have passed a cager on the outside on a curved access ramp, having to go wide and use the shoulder because I realized my body was sticking out too far while leaned over and I needed the extra room. I’ve passed a semi-truck on the right, because I became impatient with traffic, then having to accelerate so hard, I unloaded the front suspension in 4th gear, because the trucker decided it was time to use the right lane again. I’ve almost tripled the speed limit on several occasions, just because “I can.” I’ve done 90 in a 35 just to hit that sweet little 90-degree sweeper to see how fast I can actually go around… And the list of squidly acts goes on… it’s embarrassing, really. And this didn’t start until about November. Coincidentally that would be around the same time when my baseline mood slowly took a nosedive into the crapper due to more human drama, exacerbated by the holidays. This damn sure falls into the category of emotional riding, but of a more dangerous, sneaky kind, because you’re not really consciously aware of doing it until you think back and take stock of the situation. Let’s face it: Being a squid can be so much fun! So, I’ve ramped up my risk acceptance and it needs to stop. As fun as it is, I’m going to have to keep this shit in check, it’s becoming way too regular of an occurrence.

Case in point:

Miss SquidlyPants rides again. I really have been a squid lately. Don’t be a squid!

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