The first real ride of 2018

I don’t winterize my bike (that’ll be important later). I ride everywhere except first snow to last salt. In Wisconsin that means a lot of cold riding, but with chaps and heated gear I do all right. 2018 has been a shitty winter in Wisconsin. Maybe it’s a normal winter, but a normal winter here is not great. Still, I’ve been able to get out on the bike 3 times already this year, and started my bike several times besides.

Imagine my joy when my bike didn’t start this morning for the first time ever.

I was meeting people. High of 52 in Wisconsin in March. Sun is shining. 23,000 miles on a 2 year old bike. Are you fucking kidding me? The clock is ticking…

My battery was fine, it was turning the starter over. I had a nagging worry about gas. Ethanol draws water, and I had ridden enough that my tank was nearly empty. You really want a full tank to keep moisture out of your fuel. I fucked with this for a while, then ran out in my car to get some fresh gas. I siphoned the tank out (fuel injected Victory isn’t easy to just pull a line to drain the tank) and barely got anything so I put two gallons of clean 93 in. Roll the bike around, shake the tank up, try to start. Put the battery charger on. Pick up trash in the yard and sweep out my garage to pass the time.

Repeat.

Roll the bike forward, then roll it backward and jump on the front break to stop the bike. Shakes the tank up. Try to start her again. Two hours past when I was supposed to meet some folks, she starts up. A test ride, restart, and I’m in business. It’s already 54, hotter than it was supposed to be today. Two miles from the house I stop and top off the gas tank for more fresh gas and to make sure she still starts.

The rest of the day I’m on the back roads with a couple other guys. Listening to David Allen Coe and the Moonshine Bandits on roads that are not ready.

See, in WI it could have been 50 degrees for a while but there’s still snow under a shade tree and maybe some of the smaller lakes are still frozen over with people ice fishing on them. Even if the roads are clean, there’s excess salt and sand that makes the roads less sticky than you’d want. When you’re rolling with guys who insist on doing at least 60 in every 35mph curve, you have to ride careful.

I got a great tour of the kettle moraines in SE WI , I got a little sunburn, and I got a smile so wide it may last me until the next 50 degree day. We ended up at a bar near where a couple of us live, and a few folks from my riding group who’d been elsewhere today happened to land there as well. Good people, smiling from a great day out in the sun, clean beer and greasy bar food. Today was everything it needed to be. Today was a tiny taste of how great life can be: you fix a problem, you spend a day with your knees in the breeze, you shake hands with some great folks. You make plans for rides to come. You come home, make dinner for your family, and you get ready to pay the bills for the next 5 days.

Yea, I got out for a few miles when it was 30 and 40 degrees, but this was the first real ride of 2018.

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