By Victor Wanchena
Every part of this country has a creature or boogieman that preys upon, or at least frightens, the local inhabitants. The northwest has Bigfoot; the desert southwest has El Chupacabra. They are elusive creatures and highly questionable in their intent or reality. But their existence is universal and every region has one. They are the source of much conversation, usually from some codger at the end of the lunch counter. He’s only too happy to regale you with tales about his chance meeting with the creature and his narrow escape.
Well, for mid-western riders, spring means the return of the insidious sand monster. This is no garden-variety sand. It’s not the warm inviting type that’s found on local beaches. Instead, this type of sand is a vicious creature that lies in wait on local roads to waylay unsuspecting riders. I have heard whispered tales in the dark corners of taverns about the horrors of “the sand”. “The sand” is able to reach up from its hiding place and pull a rider down with little or no warning. This malevolent dirt rules the spring time roads until its arch-nemesis, rain, falls to earth and drives the sandy scourge back to where it came from.
I realize that I may be engaging in a little hyperbole. Regardless, many riders refuse to take to the rode in the springtime because of the dreaded sand. The result is taking the precious 8 or 9-month riding season we have and shortening it even further. After staring out the window all winter pining for that first 40 or 50 degree day, why would you torture yourself any further? The sun is out and the birds are chirping. Instead, you retreat to the recesses of the garage and polish the bike a little more. Such self-denial is to be commended, but your worries and fears are unfounded.
Sand is no more a hazard than any of the hundred other challenges that a rider faces any time they take to the road. We must be conscious of our surroundings, and that includes the road surface. Sand in and of itself is no greater a threat in the spring than in the summer or fall. By that I mean riding through a sandy section of road poses the same challenge to riders regardless of the season. The only difference in the spring is that the frequency that we encounter sand is greater. Being vigilant and mindful of the road is a necessary part of riding. Riding around in an ignorant bliss
So take to the streets and do not let the “the sand” keep you from riding. If the riders in the Paris-Dakar Rally can somehow cross the Sahara desert (really sandy so I’m told) maybe we can enjoy the fine roads we have.
Lastly, MMM wishes to give a hearty “Thanks for your service” to the three MMM readers pictured above. They were serving in Bosnia at the time this picture was taken. They are from left to right: Sgt. Craig Freiermuth, Sgt. Brian V. Waletzko, and Spc. Jason Austin. Thank you and thanks to all the other men and women serving our country.
Ride fast. Take chanes.