“…I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”
With snow spitting from the sky just days ago, I began thinking about the distance I’ve covered in the last 90 days. Bill Murray’s immortal words from Groundhog Day rapidly came to mind. While I discussed the worst days of January in my previous write-up about 180 days in the saddle, the last 90 have kind of run together.
I unquestionably dealt with more snow and frigid temperatures back in January. That said, the heaviest snow we received this winter actually occurred in early February. While I think it was only about 6 inches of snow (northerners please proceed to laugh hysterically), Daytonians have obviously forgotten how to drive in winter weather after experiencing such mild winters over the past couple years. That particular morning, cars were stacked up for half a mile in front of my office. Last time I checked, you need momentum to get up a snowy incline (not that I would know anything about that). At any rate, the last 3 months have involved a lot of snow, not so much in volume, but unquestionably in frequency.
7:30 AM, Wednesday, February 28th
The typical morning commute…
When it Rains it Pours
While snow accumulation wasn’t particularly of note, we did in fact receive record rainfall in February, March, and April (almost 3 inches in 1 day in April). As I saw temperatures rising right around my birthday, I decided I was overdue for a trip down to the bluegrass state as a treat to myself. The high was only going to be mid-50s but I decided to brave the morning cold so I could go see a few covered bridges I hadn’t yet visited in northern Kentucky. Naturally, I ignored the fact that the Ohio River was above flood stage; a fact I rapidly discovered as I neared Cabin Creek Covered Bridge just east of Maysville. I watched a truck ford a section that was probably over 100 yards long. I dared not attempt it myself, considering I wasn’t familiar with the path of the road in order to stay on it and not sink into the obscured culvert.
The saturation of the Gem City continued in early April. Days of endless rain brought the Great Miami River to flood stage unlike any time I’ve ever seen before. Various avenues around town were closed due to high water, including my street and several main thoroughfares nearby. Weeks later, local roadways are still littered with gravel, sand and silt, making every ride an “adventure”.
Electrical gremlins, one of my bigger fears in completing this challenge, did come to fruition right after my first big ride to Kentucky this year. On the return trip, as I neared my house I noticed my turn signals were acting a little funny. The next day I poked around on the bike for a bit in the cold, noticing that if I activated the left indicator, all four lights would blink. After unplugging the rear brake light assembly, the front lights functioned properly. I pulled the stock tail light assembly out of the basement and plugged it in to see how it functioned. Naturally everything worked fine, so I swapped out the aftermarket unit and put the bike back together.
Things went swimmingly for several days, but shortly thereafter I noticed that my heated grips were throwing up the “bike not running” warning light. I found this a little odd considering I was riding, so I suspected I may have a faulty grip controller; it didn’t seem out of question, it’s been in a lot of weather since it was installed almost 2 years ago. That suspicion was proven false when I found the battery dead just a few days later. Per my comments about recent Scrambler upgrades, tearing into the wiring again, I discovered a short out of the rectifier bundle and decided to ditch the stock rectifier in lieu of a MOSFET unit. Thus far that seems to be working out quite well; I admit I’m not entirely sure if all of these incidents are related, but electrical gremlins preceded by wet encounters seems to be a common theme (“It’s a Triumph Mate!”).
Thus far, the unplanned maintenance events have been manageable; I hope that trend continues, not just through the summer, but frankly, indefinitely. Riding every day has naturally driven a lot routine maintenance as well. While I did change a tire last February, between March Moto Madness and to spite Old Man Winter, this year I’ve actually swapped two sets of tires since January. Looking back at my maintenance records from this time last year, I was forced to cut off a heavily abused chain much sooner than expected, but it appears I did an oil change only 30 days earlier than last year. I also find it interesting that I’m actually down about 1,000 miles versus 2017, including my trip to Tennessee; I suppose that’s a testament to the ever persistent winter.
A few folks in my riding circle have said “you picked a hell of a year to ride every single day.” That is definitely the case, however I’ll be the first to admit, I remember far worse winters. While it’s not completely out of the question, I think the likelihood of 6 inches of snow falling this April is not very good. I’m not upset about that, because I honestly thought I would have spent more time riding in the snow than I have, and I’m thankful for that. I do admit, I’m pretty run down from piling on all the gear day after day in preparation for another battle with the elements. The rain has been punishing this spring, and I don’t expect that to end anytime soon; but it’s still better than temperatures in the teens with snow and salt scattered across the local streets. I’ve seen two 60°F days this weekend, including my second covered bridge adventure into the Bluegrass state. Hopefully that’s the light at the end of the tunnel. With weather trending up (hopefully for real this time…) and my sights on Pennsylvania in mid-June, I suspect the next 95 days will have equally interesting challenges.