Motorcycling in Chicago: Winter doesn't have to mean the end of the riding season for the stout of heart

Motorcycling in the northern climes can make for very short riding seasons, especially for girly-men.  With the annual Toys For Tots parade coming up on Dec 2 (it's always the first Sunday of December), I'm down to one riding buddy, my giant Norwegian friend.

A lot of it seems to have to do with attitude. Most riders just think of it as a warm weather activity and start putting their bikes away before I've even decided what to wear for Halloween.   I asked a skier-friend why he puts his bike up all winter when he skies with a light shell in the coldest weather. He explained that skiing works your body, keeping you warm.

"But you're just sitting there when you snowmobile", I challenged.

"Yeah", he said, "but then your dressed for it".

See what I'm saying?  Of course you dress for it when you go snowmobiling, but I wouldn't suggest otherwise for a motorcycle ride in December or January.

I ride with a group called Warriors' Watch Riders.  We welcome home soldiers, escort them from time to time and sadly, accompany some on their final journey.  This week we'll be escorting sailors from Great Lakes Naval base to Thanksgiving dinners prepared for them by VFWs, American Legions and other organizations across Chicagoland who want to give them a home-cooked meal on Turkey Day.  We'll be welcoming home a lot of service men and women on holiday leave and doing Xmas dinner escorts, as well.  It'll be January before I even get a chance to do some winter repairs.

In all fairness to my fair-weather buddies, I scored some heated gear last year.  I have a jacket liner and gloves that use the bike's battery to keep me warm and snuggly. Sometimes it's too warm, but I just unzip my jacket and let in some cool air. Before I got that gear, though I just bundled up and hit the road, as long as the roads were dry.  I just look much cooler now.

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