|Just over Cajon Pass, literally, on the edge of a storm.|
When I first started riding, I remembered looking through various catalogs and seeing all sorts of cold-weather riding gear. One item that caught my attention was heated grips. Having never really ridden a bike anywhere else but SoCal at the time, I thought to myself: "man, you must been a real pansy to need heated grips."
Fast forward a few years later. I had relocated to NY and I still remembered the first time that I had ride in the cold. We had some prototype that needed to be tested and this is around early winter in NY. It was a cold, sunny day. It had been snowing lightly but nothing really stuck on the ground. I hopped on the SV and off I went. I was fine for about 10 minutes putting around town, then I got on the interstate and I quickly realized how big of a pansy I was. My fingers were the first to go and it got extremely uncomfortable in a hurry. I had to cut the ride short as I couldn't bear the cold wind blasting on my fingers.
That winter I learned to appreciate winter gloves and heat packs.
A few years later, I got my first bike with heated grips, a BMW K1200S. A great accessory except by now I'm in sunny LA and I used it sparingly, only on trips outside of the LA area.
The K1200S was retired last fall and I now ride a Kawasaki Ninja 650. It's probably the funnest bike I've ever owned. Since getting it, I haven't really missed the K1200S at all. Until last week.
I rode the bike out to Vegas for last week. It had been cold here in LA and before I left, I checked the weather in Vegas. In the mid to high 40's and sunny. Just like LA. So I thought to myself, just layer up and I should be fine.
I left LA mid morning on Thursday. Having layered up and all the air vent zippers closed off on my GlowRider jacket, I was comfortable even cruising around the high 90's.
Traffic out of LA was light and I was zipping along at a pretty good pace. When I got to I-15, a black SUV zoomed by me and it must've been doing well over 100. A smile quickly appeared on my face. I let the SUV get a few hundred yards in front and picked up my speed to match that of the SUV. I love having a rabbit!
I tailed my rabbit for a good while until all of a sudden, my trusty TPX Detector went off on a light Ka alert. I instinctively let go of the throttle and dropped my speed down to around 75. Needless to say, the SUV quickly disappeared ahead of me and I kept my caution on.
At this time, I was thinking that if there is a cop ahead catching speedsters in my direction, that SUV is toast!
The Ka alert slowly got stronger, and sure enough, about 3/4 of a mile later, I went by a CHP on two wheels on the side of the road. To my surprise, the SUV was nowhere in sight. Not sure what had happened, but either the SUV also had a radar detector and slowed down, or exited the freeway before he got to the cop.
Regardless, had it not been for the TPX Detector, I'm sure that I would've had a chat with that CHP.
Now, back to the conversation about cold weather. Shortly after my encounter with the CHP, I started heading up Cajon Pass. As I was approaching the ascend, I could see heavy clouds at the top of the pass. This is when I realized that I had forgotten to check the weather conditions in between LA and Vegas and I could be in trouble. A portable sign on the side of the road warning motorists about icy road condition followed, then I start seeing cars with snow on their hood and roof on the opposit traffic.
By now, I know for sure that I'm in for a cold ride. As I got near the top of the pass, it started to snow. I went from being very comfortable to very, very cold quickly. So quickly that I didn't even realize that my fingers were freezing numb until pain started radiating from my finger tips. How I miss my K1200S with the heated grips now!
I decided to keep on going instead of pulling over because there weren't any exits, and I braved the cold until I got over the pass and immediately pulled off at the nearest fast food joint, a Jack in the Box. After dismounting the bike I beelined directly to the restroom and had my hand under the faucet for what felt like an eternity before I could feel my fingers again.
I knew the ride should be better after the pass as I could see nothing but sunshine ahead, but I was in no hurry to get back on the road. I took my sweet on lunch and used the time to defrost myself a bit before finishing up the ride.
I returned from Vegas the next day. This time, I checked the weather in between LA and Vegas. Sunny the whole way, but still cold. I braved the cold as the return trip was not as bad, but still, pretty darn cold.
Surprisingly, not a single threat encountered on the way back. Maybe the cops didn't feel like being out in the cold!
Another trip, another save, and I definitely learned that I'm a pretty big pansy when it comes to cold weather riding!