Friday, March 18, 2011

My first weekend motorcycle ride

Last weekend was one of those late winter weekends with an unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday, followed by a cold and rainy Sunday.

It reminded me of one such March weekend back in 1966 when I was a student at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

My friend Steve Dolbow, a TKE at ISU, had a small Japanese motorcycle. I think it must have been a 250cc or maybe a 350cc.

I don’t remember whose idea it was – probably mine since it involved friends of mine – but we decided it would be fun to ride his bike up to Crawfordsville and go drinking with my Delphi High School buddies Ed Cook and Gene Snipes at their Sigma Chi Fraternity house on the Wabash College campus.

It was my first motorcycle trip of more than just putting around town. Steve had a spare helmet, so I figured I had all I needed.

The two-up (Steve at the controls) ride up to Crawfordsville was a delightful 60-mile lark in the sun. U.S. 41 north of Rockville, Ind., has a lot of fun curves and changes of elevation that continue when you turn east on Ind. 47. It was great fun and I think we got appropriately drunk, as college kids are wont to do, that night.

Coming back to Terre Haute was a different story.

A cold front overrode Saturday’s warm air overnight and we left for Terre Haute Sunday morning in a cold drizzle. My memory of the ride back was mostly of being soaked to the skin and horribly, miserably cold. I suspect the temperature was in the low 50s, but that’s crazy cold when your clothes are wet. I remember we stopped at a laundromat in Rockville to wring out our jackets and to try to fashion some kind of rain gear out of trash bags. By the time Steve dropped me off at my dorm, we were both deep into hypothermia.

I shucked my soaked clothes and shuffled down to the showers where I spent about an hour trying to warm up under hot water. Then I went to bed, turned my electric blanket up all the way and slept the rest of the day and night.

I suppose that would have put some people off of motorcycling for life. I don’t think Steve rides anymore. It obviously didn’t have that effect on me.

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