By December 16, 2005

104 and I didn't feel a thing

Monday. Afternoon. Sunny, but cold.

I looked at my computer screen and nodded.

“Mission accepted,” I thought to myself, fingers clicking my confirmation back towards my handler. I locked my workstation, shut off the monitor, and pushed roughly away from my desk.

On went my riding gear, including my cold-weather gloves so thick I sometimes can’t tell if I’m gripping the handles on my bike or not. Earplugs, balaclava, silk glove liners, fleece jacket and vest, I was ready to go. Current temperature: 37 degrees, 4 MPH wind.

I flung the dust cover off from Cylon. He stood alertly on his center stand. I nodded. He betrayed no emotion, as usual. He started easily, and we pulled free of the driveway and onto the nearby street.

I flicked through the gears, and in minutes we were on the freeway. I crouched down halfway, just enough to hide from the wind as we held pace behind a sedan at 80MPH. I was in a caravan, four vehicles deep, and the next smallest vehicle was five times our weight. A this speed, one mistake would spell disaster. As much as I tried to keep my distance from the sedan in front of me, the other cars in the convoy would try to pass if I fell too far behind. I compromised, and closed up space. I hugged the gas tank gently with my knees for comfort, like a toddler and his blankey.

We arrived without incident to our drop zone (save some cold fingers, again). I left Cylon in the parking lot, and procured the package. To make sure the other occupants didn’t know what I was up to, I joined them in their revelry and ordered a quick meal. I had two cups of coffee. Bland. But not bad. I left a larger than normal tip, as it was the holiday and I was feeling generous. Perhaps that may have drawn too much attention to myself, but so did the gleaming, ice-cold helmet next to me. No matter. The first stage of my mission was complete, and it was time to return to base.

Jacket, reflective vest, ear plugs, balaclava, helmet, liners, gloves, ignition, go. Routine, and everything was going like clockwork.

Gunned my way through traffic and hit the highway for the journey home. Traffic was faster this time; we were closer to 5PM and the cagers were anxious to get home. To eat dinner. To be with their families. To watch Desperate Housewives with their mouths open and minds empty. Unlike the crowd on the way out, this caravan drove pensively. I could see it in the way they tailgated each other, or made sudden lane changes without warning. My eyes were my radar: front, right side mirror, left side mirror, front. I had been eyeing a tan, early 90s Mustang behind me. He was moving up quickly, buzzing around traffic. I knew I had to give him room between myself and the other anxious drivers ahead of me.

My target car — I always follow a car in case there is a cop on the road and he’s itching to write a ticket — was barreling down the road at 90MPH. We were passing the traffic on the right easily, and to pull over to let the Mustang by would have not only slowed my pace but may have put me in jeopardy. The cars in the other lane were tightly packed and didn’t harbor any thoughts of letting me in.

The Mustang had other plans. It swung right, punched the gas beside me, and then shoehorned himself between me and the cars in front of us. No signal. No hesitation. Had anything changed in my position on the road, I would have been dogmeat. He instantly knew he had done something questionable. I shook my head at him, and he was close enough that he held a hand up in apology. As soon as there was a break in traffic, he got over to the right again in order to make his next attack on the caravan.

I had had enough. I crouched low and rolled back on the throttle with my right hand. I slipped past the Mustang as if it were standing still. Cylon’s behavior didn’t change a wit. No extra travel along the road, no feelings of instability. I thought the Mustang had slowed until I looked down at the speedometer.

104MPH, and I didn’t feel a thing. It was if we were doing 40 on the city streets. My mount glided along the asphalt, absolutely oblivious to the deadly speed at which he carried his master. I rolled off the throttle as we hurtled towards the car in front of us. We slowed to 85, again without violence or a change in disposition. Here I was, not 30 seconds ago cursing a man in my mind, and now I had a giant smile upon my face.

It’s a wonderful feeling, being out on the elements, being a part of the bike. With immense respect and admiration I often think of the engineering that went into Cylon and the thousands upon thousands of his two-wheeled brethren.

I was still smiling when we reached headquarters. Gloves, liners, helmet, balaclava, ear plugs, vest, jacket, fleece vest, boots. I let the two attack dogs loose from their steel holding pens. I returned to my desk, and calmly typed:

Mission accomplished.

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Posted in: motorcycling

1 Comment on "104 and I didn't feel a thing"

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  1. jim shoe says:

    “To watch Desperate Housewives with their mouths open and minds empty.”

    This is a remarkable bit of writing! I love the turn of phrase. Awe-some.