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Saturday, October 26, 2013

The winter months brings it's own challenges.

Autumn has arrived in officially in Florida.

The humidity broke, the temperature has settled into the what I used to think of as "summer" weather when I lived up north.  My mesh jacket has been confined to the closet and I slip into my heavier "winter" jacket welcoming the extra weight and warmth of it for the cold ride home at 1 AM.  I start to get my head around the fact that soon it will be very cold on the way home.

The temp gauge on my beloved Burgman (RIP)
I know that the words "cold" and "Florida" don't exactly make logical sense.  I do admit to feeling some pangs of regret that my Northern friends don't have a year round riding season like I do and always feel a little bad bringing up the topic of "cold weather riding."

Well snow is as rare as a truthful politician it can get cold here.  I have photographic proof of it.  For me it's a challenge, I have to dress warmly yet still manage to look professional and competent.  Dressing in layers is not always possible...I have to work in an area we refer to as the "fish bowl" - a glass enclosed small space full of computers.  Sweaters and hoodies can only go so far and I don't want to do a strip tease just yet.  My boots are good at keeping my feet warm but my legs?  Oh that is a different story!  In the past I've gone so far as to wear thermal underwear under my dress pants or place a pair of old sweatpants under the seat and pull those over my dress pants.

Winters are dry here, but we do get a nasty wind off the land and sea at various times of day and wind chill becomes a issue.   Layering is all well and good, but again how much gear can I wear in to work to stay warm on my 37 mile (60 KM) ride home without sweating off my skinny little butt?

The simplest solutions are always the best.

Kimmie at work.
The migration of the snowbirds also brings heavier traffic and a greater number of bikes on the road.  With that comes new dangers and challenges. I'm not knocking older drivers, who on the whole tend to be safer drivers, but they do need to remember the old adage "look twice, save a life."   Yesterday for example I had cars pull out in front of me twice, neither time was I ever in danger but that's not the point.  I have to be more vigilant in the winter months.  For example, in my little town of Zephyrhills the ave population is a little over 13,000 people.  During the winter months that number climbs to something like three or four times that.  More people equals more problems equals more danger.  That is just a sad fact.

UPDATE - In a bizarre twist, I was meeting my girlfriend at a friends about 4 PM.  They live off a rather busy road that is hard to cross during rush hours.  I decided to head down a rough washboard road and meet them at a Italian restaurant.  I too,k my helmet out of my top case and road the 3 miles or so to the bar.  By the time I got there my top case was gone.  We went back to look for it and traveled that road back and forth at least 3 times.  There was no sign of it anywhere.  Not even plastic on the road.  So I need a new top case and a new pair of gauntlet gloves (which were in the case).  Also new reflective stickers.

Robert is not happy.


David Drouin said...

I think driving in Florida is ludicrous. I think you are right when you say it has something to do with all the tourists coming to spend time in Florida. Unfamiliarity with the roads can make people do some crazy things when they miss their exit.

As a Floridian I wanted to get your opinion on something. When I was in Florida people, generally, did not indicate a change of lane with their blinkers. Is this just driving culture in Florida?

You will get no sympathy from me about your chilly commute. It is drizzling freezing rain and I spent the morning calling places to have my motorcycle stored.

- Dave at Motorcycle Addiction

The City Mouse in the Country said...

I don't know Dave, it seems like where ever I wander the driving skills of people are getting worse. Florida however seems to attract the really truly bad ones. :(

Trobairitz said...

Yikes. Hard to believe you didn't find the top case. Someone must have picked it up instead of just leaving it by the side of the road for you.

Not sure there is an easy answer for your what to wear to work so you aren't too hot but yet have enough gear to ride home in the cold.

The length of your commute doesn't sound like much fun but there can't be too much traffic at 1 am.

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Ouch on the topcase.

Cold is cold not matter what the temperature. And it must be dealt with. I find things that block the wind most helpful. Last winter I picked up an Aerostich goretex jersey on clearance. It has been a wonderful addition. It packs small and wearing it under the jacket has been helpful on the cooler times.

My biggest and best surprise was a pair of cycling rain pants made from a goretex like fabric, waterproof yet breathes. I wear them under my riding pants. It gives me another waterproof layer and blocks the wind and once again packs pretty small if I don't need it.

Good luck looking forward to hearing what solutions you find.