The not-so-polar-bear ride

coffee stop

A quick stop for some gas station coffee and to warm my fingers on a sunny but chilly January 1.

Some people say going for a ride on the first day of the year brings good luck for the following 364 days. That’s probably just an excuse to ride, but in the gray days of winter at these latitudes, I’ll take what I can get.

Some people call them polar bear rides, these day-one outings (not to be confused with the Polar Bear Grand Tour, which is an actual, organized thing). Not every year is a good one for a New Years Day outing, but this year brought mid-40s temperatures and sunshine, even better than last year and more cheerfully sunny than 2014, so the Speed Triple and I set out for a ride.

Yes, the weather was nice enough that I left the Versys with its windscreen, heated grips and handguards in the garage to give the old Triumph, now two months short of its 20th birthday, the honor of the year’s first ride. Of course the lack of heated grips necessitated a stop to warm my fingers and choke down some gas station coffee when the ride stretched out longer than I had planned.

I wasn’t the only one who had the idea. I saw at least a dozen bikes on the road, far more than the number I’ve seen any other day recently. I deciphered a newly rerouted road not far from home, searched my memory banks and found my way to some little-used country lanes, one of them unpaved, stopped for gas and a warm-up and swung by Buckeye Lake for a photo op. Somehow, my short ride ended up being about 80 miles.

Speed Triple by the lake

The Triumph is a little rough for beauty shots these days, but the sunshine on the lake improved the background, at least.

I don’t know if it will bring me any luck this year, but a New Years Day ride sure helps adjust my mood on these days when I’m most missing my former life in the tropics.

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