Thursday, being a government holiday to honor Veterans, Mother Nature honored us all with a sunny November day. Maybe not warm but crisp and clear. I started the day with a brisk (both in speed and temp) early morning walk through my hood, shopped for groceries then, after consulting my list of things-to-do, decided to ignore all and take advantage of the clear sky to get out on a motorcycle ride. With Mark working on bikes and not often able to get out, I no longer own a bike but he had a fixer at the shop that was fixed and had offered its use to me so I thought it best to get a ride in while the weather held. I donned my boots, dug out my coat and gloves, dusted off (literally) my helmet and started thinking about where I would ride.
This bike is a little 800 cc Suzuki cruiser, black with silly buckhorn handlebars - a little laid-back and chopper-like for my taste but at least I could comfortably touch the ground. This is especially nice when I ride so seldom, at least I wouldn't have to worry about ground clearance while I adjusted and reminded myself how to ride. As often happens when I get out on these random rides, I'm a bit nervous in the anticipation then I climb on, head out the driveway and it all comes back. Except for a brief goober moment when I forgot to check for automatic signal canceling and rode 10 blocks of I Street with my blinker on, it all was second nature.
It felt so good to roll the throttle on - even the blast on the freeway, with no windshield to protect me from the chilly November air, was nice. I turned off at McKinleyville then headed through Fieldbrook, enjoying that stretch where the trees reach overhead and across the road. Had I done this ride a few weeks ago, those trees would have been a beautiful autumn canopy but now, just skeleton-like branches hang overhead. Damp road, chilly air but still, the collective smells of wet leaves, livestock and the smoke of woodstoves hit me square in the face and warmed me (figuratively anyway) as I imagined the people in their homes, huddled beside the fire as I rode past through the cold autumn air.
I headed into downtown Blue Lake and past the Mad River Brewery where I could smell the wet grain cooking as I aimed towards West End Road. I do love that area, which is why I always end up there on these little jaunts - so beautiful with the animals grazing at the edge of the road but SO narrow, I was grateful to be on a bike as cars passed going the other direction. Past sheep. Past horses. Then along the river on West End Road as I came out of the trees and headed into Arcata. As I returned to town on Old Arcata Road, my fingers became increasingly dysfunctional with cold, making it more difficult to manipulate the clutch and brake levers. I started thinking about wrapping my hands around a warm mug of Orange-Cinnamon tea, a sign that it must be time to head home.
Not a long ride but enough to make me appreciate where I live and even to think about the holiday and the Veterans who served that allowed me this ride in peace and relative safety. I say relative because, just blocks from the shop, I barely missed being hit. Some bitc.... PERSON traveling on E Street ran the light at 14th right in front of me and behind the van I was following. Truly, had I been going just a tiny bit faster, she would have hit me broadside instead of forcing me to grab every bit of brakes that Suzuki had to offer. I think she was a little confused when she realized everyone else going her way was stopped and maybe still doesn't realize how close she came to having me bounce across her windshield. Timing is everything. Just wasn't my time I suppose. So ended a lovely ride that will hold me until Mark has another fixer for me to play with. My to-do list is still waiting.