Thursday, August 06, 2015

Mike the Bike

One of the patterns of my life for the past three years has been a fairly pleasant commute.  My department covers four counties running along and below the Caprock Escarpment.

From Wikipedia: The Caprock Escarpment is a term used in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico to describe the geographical transition point between the level high plains of the Llano Estacado and the surrounding rolling terrain. In Texas, the escarpment stretches around 200 mi (320 km) south-southwest from the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. The escarpment is especially notable, from north to south, in Briscoe, Floyd, Motley, Crosby, Dickens, Garza, and Borden counties. 

Four of those counties are mine and getting to my various offices is almost always a refreshing drive.  The problem has been the wear and tear on my car.  Mileage payments cover the cost of fuel, but don't really provide for buying a new set of tires each year, the depreciation of high mileage on a new vehicle, etc.  A couple of months ago I convinced myself that the best solution for this was to buy a motorcycle.  Obviously.  

Mike the Bike is my new best friend.   

It's summer in Texas and that means most of the time I'm riding in shirt sleeves.  Some mornings I throw on a windbreaker, but not often in the last couple of weeks.  I need to buy a new leather jacket for the cooler months.  Inexplicably, the one I wore ten years ago is too small.  Who knew leather would shrink up like that, just from hanging in the closet?  

I bought a new 'big shirt' this weekend and wore it for the first time today.  The shirt doesn't go too well with my full-face black helmet, but that's ok.  I wasn't going to wear the windbreaker just for fashion's sake.  Comfort out-ranks fashion these days.  

I likes me a full-face helmet because I am not at all impressed with the sensation of bugs in my teeth.  There are some drawbacks, though.  Vision is slightly curtailed with this helmet.  Peripheral vision is not bad, but I can't glance down without lowering my head.  If I need to see me feet for some reason, I have to actually look down by dropping my head, rather than just glancing down. And the full helmet is hotter.  Way, way hotter.  

It wasn't terribly hot this morning when I first got on the bike and rode through town.  Riding from one side of town to the other took all of three minutes.  And that's because I had to stop and wait on a car to pass before I turned on to the highway.  Once I got up to highway speed the wind felt a little chilly.  The thin cotton shirt wasn't blocking any air at 70 miles an hour and I was a bit shivery.  

Regardless, it was a gorgeous morning.  The clouds were plentiful enough to be interesting.  The cotton fields are just starting to bloom.  The air smelled fresh and clean.  Traffic was fairly light, as usual.  A few of us headed in to town for work.  A few farmers headed out of town for the same reason.  A few truckers headed through the town on their way to somewhere else.  

The road curves as you enter the north side of the county seat.  The speed limit drops to a sedate 35 miles per hour.  About a half a mile through town is the county's only stop light.  Today I got lucky and it was green - I didn't have to stop, just slowed down a bit.  The convenience store on the corner was doing a brisk beverage and gasoline business.  

A block further on I turned left and rode past the funeral home, two banks, a beauty shop, a CPA, the radio station and the drug store.  I stopped at the intersection between the pharmacy and bank before riding the last half block to the courthouse.  The County Judge lets me park my bike under the covered pavilion so my seat is not so scorchingly hot when I leave at five o'clock.  

I coasted up the short sidewalk, past the 'No Vehicles Allowed Beyond This Point" sign and around the interior of the pavilion before parking.  The pavilion sits at the south end of the courthouse, next to the sheriff's office.  I dismounted then worked to wrangle the helmet's chin strap free. It's always kind of a chore, and once I get the helmet off, my hair blows all around. 

It was then that I looked down.  

And saw my shirt.  Unbuttoned all the way to the waist.  Blown back off of my chest, leaving my bra and torso, in all it's pale, rolly-poly glory, fully exposed. 

I was more than a little surprised.  

And then offended.  

I rode half naked for 15 miles and right through the busiest intersection in the county and - evidently - not one person noticed.  No one honked.  No one leered.  No one even freaking waved.

I don't know quite how to take that.  Either our rural society is much more open-minded that I'd previously imagined or my naked torso is completely and pathetically uninteresting.  

All I know for sure is if I ever get a titty tattoo it's gonna say "Honk If You Can Read This".  

And now I have to ride home...