August 28, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 1

When we dipped into the San Fernando Valley, the phrase "It's as hot as balls!" kept spewing from my lips. At 99 degrees, it doesn't matter how fast you ride, it's just hot. The air choked my throat and pressed against my chest, only to be made more stifling by the inordinate amount of exhaust I was inhaling from the traffic. I held on, knowing something better lay ahead.

I'm not a tough guy. Oh, I feel pretty tough now and then, but riding has taught me just how spoiled and pampered I've been these last 20 years. Over the time I've been riding with Highway, I've learned a few things about myself, one of them being that I'm "High Maintenance". Believe me, I don't like admitting that I'm an ass pain. I always thought I was cute and funny, because I'm so extroverted, and that made me a pain. I had this delusion that I was flexible, tough and durable.

How wrong I've been.
The temperatures on today's trip varied by 30 degrees throughout the day; 72 to 102. That may not sound like much, but realize I'm geared up in boots, jeans, summer riding jacket with body armor, gloves, bandanna, and helmet. If 72 feels good, what do you suppose 102 feels like?

It feels like fucking Hell, that's what.

But we don't pull over because of a temperature change, or because my tummy's grumbling, or because I got a bee in my helmet. Stops are for real issues only, such as gas, potty break, or injury. Once we are stopped, I try to get everything taken care of before remounting the bike, and done quickly. It seems Highway's always waiting on me.

I've learned to tell myself, "Go a little longer. Just for 30 more minutes/40 more miles/5 more towns. . ." I've learned that I can go much longer than I thought I could and that some inconveniences, like I dropped my MP3 player or a taking a rock in the jaw, really don't require stopping, unless I can't stop the bleeding. In any case, necessity has taught me to put up, shut up and toughen up.

I'm proud of my progress. When I met Highway and he told me of his 30-day trip to Alaska, I was enthralled. I couldn't envision myself on such a ride. This ride is my first step into long-rider status. But then again, it is only Day 1.

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