Skyfall: A motorcycle in a snowstorm and death breath’s threat

imageI get asked all the time why I ride a motorcycle in the dead of winter and the answer is because of the kind of days that I experienced this past week where a snow storm hit in the middle of the day while I was out in it.  Once the snow started blowing and covering the roads I realized I needed to head home because the temperature was dropping quickly.  As people drove over the snow it was melting then immediately freezing as the atmospheric conditions were perfect for that kind of tragedy.  Before I tell this story I spend a lot of time outside—and I thrive in extreme conditions as these pictures on this article show.  They were taken a few days after that same snow storm and reflect the desperate isolation that such extreme cold and terrible road conditions bring to the mind while in it on a motorcycle.

The snow was coming down hard and had covered my bike—a Suzuki 1500 V-Twin that weighs just shy of 1000 pounds.  It’s a big bike that I’ve had virtually everywhere.  In just a few years it currently has 45,000 miles on it if that paints a picture.  I had to dust off the bike just to not sit in snow.  As I started up the big engine snow blew out of the tail pipe from all the drifts that had piled up against the rear tire, and I was genuinely concerned whether I could even steer the motorcycle in such conditions.  But within moments I had the bike moving out of the parking lot and out toward the Back Porch Saloon racing home and realizing quickly that I should have stayed put and either waited out the storm or called my wife to pick me up.   But that didn’t seem right, I didn’t want to put her in danger and I didn’t want to leave my bike on the side of the road in hard weather—so I agreed with myself to take things slow and see what happened mile by mile.image

The temperature had dropped from the mid-30s to the mid-20s Fahrenheit within the hour.  I had hoped that once I hit 747 the road that for nearly 8 miles of travel would take me nearly to my home that it would be clearer since it was a major road.  It was not.  I couldn’t turn onto the road from another without my front tire slipping out from under me.  I could barely hold up my bike against the slippery road as my foot wanted to slide outward against the surface ice that I had already wasted 10 minutes navigating.  In that time I only traveled approximately 70 feet and it became clear that I may not survive this trip this time.  So I pulled into an urgent care facility to decide what to do.  Snow had fallen down my gloves after initially brushing off my bike and was beginning to melt against my skin.  My finger tips were freezing and the visibility was about half a mile and was accumulating against my helmet at a pace that I had to continuously wipe away the snow just so I could see.  It was an impossible situation.

I sat in the desolate snow storm for a moment on my motorcycle and just looked north into the vast gray sky and tiny black dots of snowflakes that extended to the edge of visibility.  And I decided that I was going to brave the snowstorm and head home even if it was the last decision I ever made.  Sure I could have called for help, sure I could have waited out the storm, but I did not want to wake up the next day knowing that I surrendered to a snow storm.  It didn’t matter if anybody would know—but I would—so I took out my iPod and set for repeat my favorite song from 2013—the theme song from the James Bond film Skyfall by Adele.  As she sung the lyrics, “this is the end………hold your breath and count to ten……feel the earth move and then…………………” snow fell to the beat of the music and I could feel the rhythm to the universe and I plugged myself in.  I pulled my face shield down, shook off the pain of my numb fingers and threw caution to the wind. I peeled out of the parking lot and out onto 747 throwing snow everywhere to a parade of shocked faces peering at me from behind their car windows.

imageAs I moved down into the Becket Ridge valley the roads had completely frozen and snow drifts were crawling rapidly across the packed ice hiding the terrible black ice that was underneath.  I could not stop with brakes but had to just coast to a rest at stop lights.  Once the light turned green my back tire would not engage the pavement.  It just spun freely.  I didn’t apply any throttle, just let out the clutch and the back tire would just spin going almost nowhere.  So I held the bike in place struggling to hold it up as my feet were slipping outward.  I let the tire burn through the ice till it reached dry pavement shooing me forward.  The friction from the warmed up tire was melting the ice under it propelling me along just a bit.  This process was repeated for the next 4 traffic lights.image

A West Chester cop pulled up alongside me trying to determine if he should give me a ticket for reckless operation.  But his tires were spinning too and he couldn’t pull in behind me as the car behind was struggling to stay on the road.  A car just in front of us had slid off the road and over a curb in front of a Wendy’s restaurant obviously trying to turn into that parking lot for a safe haven, but not being able to make the turn.  The cop was concerned about getting someplace safe and showed no desire to stand outside and issue a ticket.  He simply shook his head and I gazed back with Adele singing in my ear…………….”Let the Skyfall.”

In these kinds of moments the mind reaches a place where fear no longer has any influence.  It is a place I always strive to be but can only reach under extreme conditions and is the primary reason I ride a motorcycle every day no matter what’s going on if it is physically possible.  I’ve been to this kind of spot many times in my life and when I return I clearly see what everything is about.  At such times I pray for a time when the U.S. Government comes to my doorstep and tries to arrest me for defending the Constitution.  I pray for a pack of terrorists to make the mistake of attacking a location near me where I can turn them into mince-meat suitable for a pretzel sold at an airport dipped in liquid cheese.  In such moments the dominate feeling is that all takers could be challenged under any quantity and the enemies would all be eradicated.  People sitting in the warmth of their cars at the next stop light must have thought I was crazy as I pumped my fist toward the heavens and challenge all the elements of earth to throw what they had at me.image

What they didn’t know was my own inner challenges were rising up against the context of the storm.  In my ear, on the iPod Adele was singing, “Skyfall is where we start, A thousand miles and poles apart……………….Where worlds collide and days are dark…………………..” and I thought of the progressive schools and how they are rotting the minds of mankind, I thought of the arrogance of president Obama and an Attorney General who is an out-right criminal.  I thought of the feminist destruction of traditional America and their mindless support of Hillary Clinton—who is also a criminal.  I thought of the gays attacking Phil Robertson for his “homophobic” views which are now the mainstream making God-fearing Christians similar to the kind of sacrificial lambs thrown to the lions during the Roman Empire.  I thought of the stagnant economy directly wrecked by progressives like George Soros and his open border, open legalized pot mind, numbing existence so that America will become one of the least free places on earth as opposed to the most.  I thought of Warren Buffet’s rail line across Canada which is the real reason that there is no Keystone Pipeline.  Buffet makes hundreds of millions of dollars as Canada uses his trains to ship their oil to China.  If that same oil traveled across a pipeline through North America to the gulf, Buffet wouldn’t make money with his trains.  That’s why the train wreck and oil spill along that line a few weeks ago went away from the news cycle so quickly.  All these people are villains—and there are hundreds of thousands more—and standing in the snow and ice with my fingers numb remotely concerned about permanent damage, I wanted to throw all those villains into a ring of death and fight them swimming in their blood upon defeat.

Lucky for me sanity is my constant companion.  Such emotions can get away if they are allowed, but I never do. After nearly an hour in the extreme cold averting countless perils I arrived home triumphantly. I was soaked to the bone, my pants where dripping with melted snow and my skin was so drenched that water ran down my legs and filled my boots with water.  Freezing, I undressed on my front porch, poured the water out of my boots and went inside to warm up.  It was good to see home, and for a while I thought I may never see it again.  About that time I had pumped my fist to the heavens and yelled within my helmet……………..”is that all you f**king have you pathetic mother nature.  F**k you, you god damn pussy.”  My mind had shifted into that much desired gear where nothing is impossible, nothing is too big, no odds matter, because fate is in your control.  Under such a frame of mind a person could alter the gravity well of entire planets and implode them with the squeeze of a hand.  They could then sling black holes across the universe like Frisbees and grab the neck of inter-dimensional terrorists and pop them like zits on the face of an adolescent.  But at the moment a warm blanket and dry towel sufficed.image

“this is the end………hold your breath and count to ten……feel the earth move and then…………………” As my wife brought me some warm food and I shivered myself to warmth once again under a pile of blankets I could see on her face that she understood.  She knows me and how I think.  As she walked back into the kitchen and I watched the snow build up outside my window I counted to ten and whispered……………….”Let the Skyfall,” and when it does………………I can stay in that frame of mind perpetually as I never feel more alive than during those moments………………and I can’t wait till I can feel such a thing again.  Skyfall……………………….

imageRich Hoffman