Opinion: Winter’s early!

Wham! Suddenly winter’s here in southern Ontario. Some riders were out last Sunday, dressed for cold but dry weather; I would have joined them but there were the last of the leaves to rake. That was too bad. Ten centimetres of snow fell the next day and it’s shown no signs of melting, though we’re only half-way through November. Damn!

My last ride of the season is a ritual. I plan for it, and I even look forward to it. I ride slowly around the country roads near my home and remember other rides, usually on a different motorcycle. This is where I rescued the turtle crossing the highway. This is where I found a shortcut through to the Horizons Unlimited meet by the lake. This is where I enjoyed a cappuccino. This is where I turned off to the north to push the traction of the Yamaha Niken on loose gravel.

Not this year, though. This year, I’ve been cheated by the early winter. There’s salt on the roads now, and I have a rule not to ride my Harley once the salt is down; she has too much chrome on her to pit, and it doesn’t seem right, anyway. It’s just another reason to get the Suzuki dirt bike running again, except now my garage is freezing cold and doesn’t warm easily.

This should be Mark’s bike right now, but it’s not. At least, not yet.

Last year, I wrote about the ritual of the last ride and how I then store my bike. Some people took me to task for being a bit too anal about it all and maybe they were right to do so, but this year will be quite the opposite. My bike is parked exactly as I last rode her into the garage, ready to head out again tomorrow, but instead I’ll drive to the local Shell station and fill a canister with ethanol-free Supreme, to top up the tank and make sure there’s no space for condensation.

That’s probably about it, though. I’ll follow some of the recommendations in our recent How to: Winterize your Motorcycle article, but only for hooking up a Battery Tender and maybe stuffing something into the exhaust to keep out any mice. This is only November, dammit. I refuse to accept the season is over.

It doesn’t help that I’m writing this column on a plane to Los Angeles, where the temperature is apparently 28 C and sunny. I’ll see riders out on their bikes who don’t give a second thought to winter, and I’ll wonder once again, as I usually do in November, why I live where I do. And then I’ll look around and see everything else there, beyond the sunshine and the motorcycles, and I’ll remember that Canada really is the greatest country on Earth.

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