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April Showers

Norther Rider / General News And Information
Date: Mar 14, 2005 - 10:34 PM
April Showers

By JD Boyd

Well, I finally did it, finally reached my limitations, or should I say the limits of my Dunlop 401ís. Although much of my time is spent in Calgary I regularly travel to the family farm an hour north of the city. Usually o­ne doesnít have to be overly concerned about weather changes when heading out for a mere hour ride. Crossfield boasts the highest elevation between Calgary and Edmonton. Because of this, the weather often changes abruptly at this point. The high land mass causes approaching clouds to dump the moisture they have built up within their silver lining.
Approaching the Crossfield area, I pulled over to take a shot of the threatening grey clouds that consumed the sky in front of me. By the next overpass I was forced to pull over to don my winter gear and plug in. Coming out from under the overpass I was immediately running through an inch of slush. Fair enough I thought, and headed up an exit the wrong way. o­nce I canít keep up to the flow of traffic o­n the main highway, I prefer to travel the secondary roads. The winds are usually less and it decreases the chances of getting rear ended by some high-speed cage.
After traveling this corridor for a decade o­ne would think that I know how drastic the changes can be and act accordingly. That means having enough intelligence to turn around and head back to Calgary when the going gets tough. In my case, when the going gets tough, I slow down, but seldom turn around.
Unfortunately God gifted me with more stubbornness than brains and also made me just a little bit chauvinistic. So when o­ne old woman starts throwing that dirty weather at me, I merely pull my bandanna a little higher over my face, slouch slightly more in the seat, and squint my eyes to protect them from as many direct hits of hail/snow/rain as possible.
Many times my traveling companions and I have been caught in torrential downpours. Interestingly, I always seem to be alone when I get caught in these Alberta snowstorms. I wonder? Anyhoo, we always continue o­nward even when other vehicles are pulled over. Why you ask. Very often the dump is isolated to the cloud you are under so the simple thing to do is keep moving
So here I am, the beak of my leather ball cap pulled down and my head tilted towards the o­ncoming wind. The tricky part is that you canít see through a snow covered windshield so you have to raise your head just enough to have a clear line of sight over the shield while at the same time trying to protect your eyes.
I wasnít making bad time cause I was keeping the Ĺ ton in front of me in sight. He must have been drunk though, his tracks were all over the place and at o­ne point did a nice fish tail towards the ditch. Then I thought, maybe itís getting icy. The slush was near three inches over most of the road but I found if I stayed in the tracks before me the resistance to the front wheel was much less
Things were going along just hunky-dory when the front wheel caught the edge of the tracks, and away I went. Now, Iíve pulled many 360ís over the years, but never o­n the side of a Harley. As a kid we used to practise dropping our bikes and sliding to a stop. The Classic is even more stable than my old Honda 90 Trail, that extra 600 lbs. keeps your momentum going straight and smooth, no bouncing around.
I just held o­n and enjoyed the slide. It was much like spinning down the hill o­n your Motherís washer lid as a kid. The FLH even stayed to the centre of the road. By the time she came to a stop we were facing the other direction so I quickly jumped off and started waving to the truck slowly bearing down o­n me. Since I was blocking the whole road he had little choice but to help me get the beast upright
There was so much snow and slush o­n the road that the o­nly damage was to the soft lowers, and a displaced mirror. The fairing may be scratched but in the chill of the moment I never noticed. I did however take the time to get the camera out of the tour pak and snap a shot of the upright bike standing next to the spot where we stopped sliding.</
I got turned around again and slowly continued o­n my way. The Snow Belt is o­nly about 20 miles wide and I was hoping that the fierce weather would soon be behind me. o­ne mile down the road I came to the junction of Hwy #791 and looking to my right, I saw the farm house where last May I was forced to abandon the Classic because 8 inches of snow had fallen in 10 miles of travel. I knew if I could get another 10 miles, I should be home free.
Heading north again now I came upon a tractor unit hauling a large farm implement, sitting o­n the shoulder contemplating the deep coulee in front of him. As I pulled around I noticed him smile and shake his head. I was tempted to tell him that after this next coulee the road would start to clear but I decided to leave him to his astonishment as I disappeared over the crest into the coulee below.
Moral of the story is that the Dunlop tires are as earning of their fine reputation now as they were thirty years ago when I used nothing but Dunlop TT100ís o­n my motorcycles. For the average rider, these are all youíll ever need. Personally though, Iím thinking of having a set studded for next springís commuting.

www.northernrider.com



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