I’ve been neglecting the motorcycle lately, which, if you believe machinery and the skills required to operate machinery work better if regularly used, is a bad thing.  So I woke up this morning determined to ride, and even though it’s cloudy and wet, put on my gear and went for it.

Okay, it was only a sixty-mile jaunt, a loop through southeastern Tucson and Vail, but I had the roads almost to myself and it was fun.  I wore the helmet that’s wired for sound, so Garrison Keillor came along for the ride (really, can his show get much lamer?).  Even though it rained, the cocoon provided by the Goldwing’s windshield and fairing kept me dry, and those heated handgrips?  Best invention ever.

In southern Arizona, unlike most of the rest of the country, late fall, winter, and early spring is riding season.  Curvy two-lane roads lead from Tucson to Mount Lemon, Sonoita, Patagonia, Tombstone, Bisbee, Globe, Kitt Peak, and Arivaca, all half-day rides.  If you have a full day, you can add Globe, Show Low, and the Chirachuas near Willcox to the list.  If you’re willing to spend the night somewhere, you can open up all of Arizona: the Mogollon Rim, Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, all fantastic riding country . . . or head west to San Diego if you don’t mind spending six hours on the freeway.

Ah, but if you ride to California, you have to bring your helmet.  Now I do wear a helmet, but after two or three hours of steady riding I get hot spots.  In Arizona you can take your helmet off if it starts to bother you . . . or ride without one altogether . . . but you can’t do that in California.  To be perfectly frank, not having to wear a helmet is one of the main reasons Arizona is so popular with motorcyclists . . . as are New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.  I actually know motorcyclists who are so anti-helmet they won’t ride outside the four-state area.

I’m pro-helmet, and not just for safety . . . I need to keep the sun off my head and face, so a helmet with a good anti-UV visor is a necessity.  Now I just need a find one that fits perfectly.  Most of my rides are of the three- to four-hour variety, so I’m fine with the helmet . . . I can stop for lunch halfway through and take the damn thing off for awhile.  But when I ride all day, I confess to spending at least part of the day riding helmetless; I’m thankful I live in Arizona where I can legally do that. Risky?  Sure.  But so is motorcycling in general, with or without head protection.  And slipping in bathtubs?  Don’t even get me started!

© 2008, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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