by Victor Wanchena
As I write this, the grip of winter on Minnesota is slowly loosening. It was, by all accounts, an easy winter, but the return of warmth and green is appreciated. With the coming of spring, I am proud to say that the mighty Ural and I conquered another season of winter riding. The lessons I learned last year were remembered and a few new tricks were learned as well. The Ural never missed a beat all winter long. It ran very well, even on the few sub-zero days we got and is no worse for the wear except for the patina of two winters worth of salt.
Over the course of the winter I was asked the same questions often. “Aren’t you cold?” and “Are you nuts?” were certainly the most common, but the question I really liked being asked was, “Why do it?” I would explain that I have two reasons for riding through the winter.
The first is that it is a challenge for me. Now I enjoy a challenge. Life can be dull at times. We all need challenges to help spice up our day-to-day lives. It seemed a natural fit to make the daily commute a bit more adventurous. There was fun for me in being a year round motorcycle commuter in Minnesota. The honks, waves and woo-hoos from other motorists, the frequency of these do increase with a decrease in temperature, was an indication I was doing something right. Mind you, I didn’t see this as some grand adventure where I was battling the elements in some desperate attempt to stay alive, rather I was just riding around in the cold and the snow. It is fun, it is a challenge and I am glad I’m doing it. Most people seem to understand the idea of adding a dash of hot sauce to life, but a few simply wrote me off as a whacko.
The other great benefit was one completely unforeseen by me. Part way through the winter my lovely wife and I were having breakfast when she commented, “I’m so glad you bought the Ural.” I was shocked. She has always been supportive of my riding, but any encouragement like that could easily lead to even more motorcycle purchases. “Sorry, honey, your car needs to be parked outside now,” my mind raced with possibilities. I cautiously asked her why? “Well, you’ve been so much easier to live with since you started riding in the winter,” she replied. Of course, she was thrilled to not have a sullen shell of a man sulking around the house for months on end. Telling the same stories over and over. Checking the valve clearance or chain tension for the 100th time on the same bike. Well, they could have changed.
My little self-imposed adventure has made my winters much more fun. It adds a touch of zest to my life. The daily routine is what you make of it, I choose to make mine a little less routine.