Appreciating Any Time You Have to Ride in the Winter

Gain perspective on sunbelt and snowbelt riders during the winter.

Appreciating riding in the winter
Whether you are in the sunbelt or the snowbelt, gaining perspective on the other’s opportunity (or lack of opportunity) to ride can be enlightening and increase your appreciation for riding when you can.Illustration by John Breakey

“What’s wrong?”

“I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Happens every fall when it gets cold and snowy and all the motorcyclists in the snowbelt have to stop riding. It’s horrifying to behold.”

The problem with some riders here in the warmer parts of the country is that they don’t realize how good they have it. They complain when the weather gets “cold” (a term used to describe days when highs are in the 60s) and don’t ride. A little rain sends them running for their garages. But mostly, sunbelt riders lose their perspective. They can ride anytime, so they have no sense of urgency about it. Bad hair day? Put off that ride for a week. It’s a typical human failing; we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it.

Like the leaves that seem to be greener after the plants bearing them have frozen for a winter, the enthusiasm of motorcyclists in parts of the country that have actual weather seems greater than those who never lose the opportunity to ride.

Motorcycle magazine editors are fortunate to be reminded of how good we have it. Through letters, phone calls and other daily communication, we get to feel the frustration of snowbound riders without actually having to stop riding ourselves. We also get to sense the glee of cold-country riders who get an occasional warm weekend to cure their cabin fever.

Street motorcycling offers many pleasures and benefits, but one of its greatest advantages is ready availability. How many other epinephrine-producing activities are as simple as grabbing your helmet and jacket? Modern man has many terrific opportunities for adventure in his leisure time. But most of these require participants to take the necessary equipment to the appropriate site, or make elaborate preparations in advance. The street rider can go from impulse to exhaust pulse in under two minutes.

And motorcycling can stretch beyond the exhilaration of an afternoon cruise. You can easily turn it into a grand adventure that you'll remember for the rest of your life, or simply an episode to enliven a dull month. If you relish the preparation and planning stages of a big adventure, that aspect is available as well. Just lay out a long ride for your next three-day weekend.

The winter-wonderland camp can also learn something from the sun bunnies who keep putting off those rides because they can take them anytime. The day comes for us all when we can’t ride. You can always make up for the meal you’ve missed or watch the tape of the big game on TV, but there will never be a rerun of the ride you didn’t take.

There is one other way to lose the joy of motorcycling. You can let other people take it away from you. Motorcycling faces a battery of obstacles in the years ahead. The environmental noose seems likely to tighten in the near future. Some people think that if motorcycles are to be permitted on public roads, crash protection should be wrapped around the riders. And every rider who fits a straight-through pipe because he loves to hear his right hand make noise, alienates countless citizens every time he accelerates down a street. All we have to shield us from these sorts of challenges those situations create is our determination to protect motorcycling. Our best voice arises from the American Motorcyclist Association, which not only nurtures motorcycling in this country by providing events but also protects it from politicians and bureaucrats who would be pleased to see us go away, preferably quietly.

Every motorcyclist owes it to himself to join the AMA. Too few motorcyclists make the effort to support the organizations that are protecting their freedom to ride; the AMA is the most important of these.

Visit AMA's website to join the AMA.