A Biker's Harbingers of Spring

For precious few of us Chicagoland bikers who tend to ride every chance we get, this is the time of year when we start listing all our favorite harbingers of spring riding. The riders who store their bikes for the winter have many of the same harbingers but are not on their bikes when they notice them. Granted, I have never seen the swallows returning to Capistrono. So I am not going to get teary-eyed or especially elated about that. But, if a biker knows where to look and pays attention, many signs of spring are evident...

Many of our piles of snow are gone and daffodil shoots are coming up in the warm areas of flower beds. The shoveled glacier over my front walk has receded far enough to allow a narrow strip of concrete to show and retrieving my Chicago Tribune is not the life or death excursion it was just a few weeks ago. Moto GP and pavement bike racing has come back to TV. And the BIG RACE, Daytona 200, will be broadcast tomorrow Saturday March 12.

More importantly, the road salt is gone. And as of the moment, before Daylight Savings Time kicks in, my early commute time had coinsided with the first light of pre-dawn. Being able to see potholes and patch ice really well in the early morning makes the commute a lot less stressful. The time will change back and I will be plunged into the dark for a few weeks. Only the government could screw up dawn for people like me who have just about had enough of winter's darkness.

We had a week's worth of warm, snow melting weather a while ago. But we knew it wouldn't last and didn't expect it to and were not disappointed when cold and snow returned. But now, it is predicted that warming temps starting next week are here to stay. A lot of riders will be calling storage places and others will be rolling out their bikes from their own storage areas. I will bet that right now, many riders are checking their supplies of chrome polish and carnuba wax?  Batteries are being checked. Is the right oil filter in stock in the garage? I will bet that some bikers have driven over to their favorite practice areas to see if the pavement is clean enough and in good enough shape to use real soon?

A real good omen of spring happened today and caused me to make this blog. I saw my first biker going the other way today during my mid-day commute. It had been so long over the cold months without seeing another rider that I was so astonished and happy to see another rider that I nearly forgot to wave. Sure, I will be sick and tired of waving to bikers by the time that August rolls around. But right now with the last of the really chilling cold evaporating, waving to another biker just feels pretty good. The chicago regional BMW club has posted its hot dog ride schedule! My antique Chicago Norton Owners Club has sent me the fliers for the spring tune-up session and the chili party and the Spring Ride dates. Stuff is happenin'!

So I am getting ready to go to my favorite practice areas and re-set my personal tilt-o-meter on the bike. A bunch of ever quicker, quick stops will prepare me for good pavement riding as I leave the winter terrors of patch ice and salt spills behind. Practicing a bunch of tight, slow u-turns, lefts and rights, always helps me get through a riding season. Yes, I miss a lot of turns and often need to make a u-turn; especially when I want to get a good photo. On a certain level, if I am not making u-turns to see something interesting, I am not having as much fun as I usually have. Chicagoland set a snowfall record for Febuary. And December and January were not very kind either. Even so, I have 18 days on the bike recorded since New Years. Three or four of those days were almost pleasent. This week I wore my early spring gloves and stored the winter mitts. My late-winter gloves are still in the bike's tankbag just in case I need a dry pair after a spring shower.

So. Get your motor runnin'. Get your biking act together now. If you are not seeing your Harbingers of Spring from the saddle, you are already late. Right?

Good ridin' to all y'all this year. And don't forget to wave when you see me.

fran

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