It occurred to me the other evening, as I was hurtling along the Bells Line of Road, that riding in the cold is rather nourishing to a man’s soul.
It also occurred to me that I could die at any second if the front-end washed out on some black ice. Or I could spend some time in gaol if a police car should suddenly fill my mirrors with blue-lighted hate. But when you’re skating around in the dark on some grim mountain road, I find it pays to think positive thoughts.
Because it is on just such roads and at just such times that one finds the purity and focus that is so often missing from our daily commutes.
There’s something truly purifying in the way the wind flenses through your face-blubber, forcing tears sideways from your eyes while your nose seeps like a snot-tap, flavouring the entire ride with your bodily drippings.
Doing it at night, when your universe has been condensed to a few visible metres of fast-changing bitumen, ever-spooling painted lines, flickering guide-posts, and the inevitable hidden monsters, is like suckling at the very breast-milk of life.
You are never more alive than when you’re eagerly nuzzling death. And as frozen as a bag of peas.
This has been my lot in life for the past few weeks. Testing winter jackets needs to be done in the cold. It’s not remotely cold enough during the day, which is also invariably polluted with my normal work. So as far as this jacket test is concerned, night time is the right time. And the Blue Mountains west of Sydney is the right place.
So please don’t read this as a complaint. I do this shit even when there are no jackets to test. A fast night-time fang into the Great Dividing Range so the Reaper can see your war face beats the crap out of sitting on your ever-expanding arse watching gay men and decayed hookers dancing on TV.
What was that? You don’t get it?
That’s alright. You don’t have to get it.
I get it. That’s all that matters. Go back to your television. Feel that belly grow with each slice of pizza. It’s better that way. Heaps safer, too. You can still say you’re a motorcyclist. Not many people will know otherwise. It’s OK. Honest.
You really have no business riding around at night in the cold. But I do. And I do because I fucken love it.
I love the way the wind bites into my pink, inner warmth when I’m sucking it through my mouth, and making some of my old fillings thrum with pain. I love the way my head voids the accumulated sinus-goo, and the way my eyes burn and sting in the chill. I love how my jaw starts to ache from clenching it against the cold, and the dizzying relief and respite that occurs when I’m forced to slow down as I approach a built-up area and the frigid lash of the wind eases a little. I love how it’s normally just me and my bike and that fragile, all-important island of light – which, along with my tyres and my undivided attention, are the only things standing between me and Game Over.
And I do so love the gear we’re all blessed with in today’s modern, polyester-rich world.
I’ve done these kinds of rides with seven jumpers and a newspaper stuffed under a leather jacket, and my lifeless, aching hands jammed into worthless (but very cool-looking) leather gloves, and it doesn’t bother me to tell you that it can really suck a big bag full of male sex organs.
The cold is fine if you’re still able to control the bike. But when you’re so frosted up you can’t use the clutch, grab the brake, or even throttle off because your well into hypothermia land, then the cold is not so fine.
Thankfully, today’s cold-weather gear is pretty spectacular when it comes to staving off ice-death.
So what’s stopping you?
You got something better to do on a cold, clear night, when the vampires are out and the Highway Patrol is busy breath-testing car-driving dickheads outside nightclubs?
No, you don’t. Not really.
Besides, I haven’t told you the most special thing about night-riding in the cold.
The most special thing about measuring your kung fu in the frozen darkness is the coming home part.
When that garage door comes down and the bike is ticking itself to sleep, that satisfied, lip-cracking grin on your face is only going to get wider.
Because you are about to truly appreciate the miracle of hot water. And that appreciation will be on a molecular level.
The greatest hot shower you will ever have is the hot shower you have after a fast, cold and punishing ride.
Tell me I’m lying.
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.