January 1, 2009. The start of a new, and hopefully better year. What better way than to start off with a motorcycle ride right? Now normally on a rainy day I wouldn't want to hit the road on the bike -- but every year our Harley Owners Group Chapter has the traditional "Chili Buns Run", to start the year. It's sort of a of "macho we'll ride in anything to prove we are real bikers" kind of thing. We start down on Alki Beach, where a few souls will occasionally take a polar bear swim (no one this year), and the rest of us line up and have a police escort down along the shore for 40 miles or so to a tavern for Chili and Hot Dogs.
Well it was raining when I woke up, and I called Tony pandabuff to see if he wanted to go. He said no, he has a bit of a cold and didn't feel like getting wet (chicken!), and I thought better of it as well so I had breakfast -- and then changed my mind at the last minute. So I struggled into the rain suit, with long-johns underneath and a sweater on top, put on the electrical heated vest and gloves and hopped onto the Rocker for the ride to the beach. Heading up 35th Ave. I was really having second thoughts again -- it was a light rain -- kind of like a supermarket produce mist, but I figured I'd never hear the end of it from the Club if I didn't go, being the Lead Road Captain and all. By the time I got to the beach however it had stopped raining and there was a donut hole of blue sky. We only had about 50 bikes this year -- down from the 100 we usually get, but we lined up anyway and started down Beach Drive.
The lingering effects of the snow from last week were evident, since the road was rutted, sandy and potholed thanks to Mayor "No-salt". There were stretches that it seemed we were riding on the surface of the moon rather than a major street. We wound down along the shore for miles, it was quiet, and the folks along the route -- used to seeing this parade every year -- were out waving. I was toasty warm with the long-johns and heated gear and quite comfortable, and we didn't have a drop of rain the whole way. The police escort was nice, since we didn't have to stop at lights or stop signs, and we all went rather slow because of the extra sand on the roads (thanks again Mayor No-Salt) since sand and Harley's don't mix well. It took us well over an hour to get down to the tavern in Federal Way where we all spent an hour warming up and enjoying the chili and hot dogs. The only downside is that all the sand on the road made it muddy and then coated the bike with mud and gravel. I hate a dirty bike -- it just makes me cringe and I couldn't wait to get home to spray her down and get all that nasty sand off of her.
So I left and headed north, and true to Chili Buns tradition, got hit with a driving rain storm about 3 miles from home -- and I ended up getting soaked anyway, despite the rain suit. Naturally it stopped about a block from home, so I sprayed off the sand and grime and backed her into the garage where I polished it up nicely and she's now sitting happy and pretty in the garage. Now I'll hit the hot tub and warm up myself.
Like one of my hero's Waren Miller says: "any day you are on skis is a good day", and I agree though I've not had much of a chance to hit the slopes this past year. So I'll make that "any day you are on a bike is a good day". If the rest of 2009 goes this good, I'll be a happy guy.