Mar 27, 2006

i haven't been riding...

...as much as i want...

i planned to take a trip up to northern virginia last week, but the weather had different plans. or the threat of the weather... the plan was to head up there tuesday night and ride back on wednesday. the weather down here was a little gloomy and overcast. i called my brother to check what the weather was like up there. he said they were calling for cold temps and snow tuesday night. now i don't mind riding in the cold, but when it comes to snow, you can count me parking the bike. so, there went that trip...

as it turned out, the trip up to northern virginia turned out to be the trip from hell, so it's probably good i wasn't on the bike. although if i was on the bike, some of the hellishness wouldn't have happened. it started a little over an hour into the trip when i got a flat tire. oh, let me back up a little bit... one of the reasons i wanted to take the bike up to virginia was because my car has developed wobble, which is extremely noticeable as slower speeds. i've been reserving use of the car for chores around town and have been dreading the day i have to take it on a longer trip - like this one. my confidence in the car hasn't been the greatest - in fact, it's been less than average. i delayed taking it to the shop to figure out what was wrong, because i didn't want to dump a bunch of money into it. anyway, here i am with a blown tire on the shoulder of i-85. in the back of my mind, i'm wondering if the wobble/vibration from the car damaged the tire and caused it to blow.

it was dusk and luckily i had an emergency light i used when changing the tire. when i looked at the tire, one side on it was completely bare, exposing the wire belts that are supposed to be on the inside but were, in this case, on the outside. all i could think of was how lucky i was to not lose control of the car when the tire blew.

so i change the tire and jockey to get back onto the interstate. you know, as you're changing the tire, no one passes... as soon as you want to get back out onto the road, everyone is there. after nervously and quickly pulling out between some cars, i realize the car doesn't seem to be shaking quite like it did before. unfortunately i was too intent on pulling back onto the interstate that i didn't bother to pay attention to how the car handled at the slower speed.

i start to wonder about the durability of the donut i just put on my car. i know it says that you're not supposed to drive over 50mph or over a certain length of time without stopping. now i'm driving 60, which is 10 over the tire's rating and 5 under the posted speed limit. now i'm worried about being a road hazard to other drivers - after all, i have become the driver i always yell at for going slow!! i start a debate with myself about whether i should attempt the rest of the trip to northern virginia on the donut, or attempt to find a place to replace the tire. i know there are truck stops along the way, but i don't want to get ripped off either. about twenty minutes later, i see a shopping center with a sears. figuring they have an auto center, i stop in... thankfully they were able to get me in immediately and replace the tire. after dropping $70 and spending 30 minutes, i was on my way again. as i'm driving away from sears, in the parking lot, at slow speed, i notice there is no wobble!!! damn, it was a bad tire that cause me all problems/worries to begin with. now my confidence in my car is fully restored and i have learned a valuable lesson - it's not just good enough to check the air pressure in your tires, you also need to check the tread. had i done that months ago, i would have saved a lot of worry and inconvenience with replace the tire in the middle of the trip.

now i've got the tire replaced and i'm on my way again. but that wouldn't be the end of my hassles on this trip. north of richmond, before fredericksburg, traffic comes to a near screeching halt. after close to an hour of inching forward but mostly standing still, traffic picks up again. as i finally got to speed, i passed an area with a lot of sand that's used to soak up gas and oil on the road. i'm guessing there was an accident the shut down the lanes.

the final bit of fun was the snow that started just north of fredericksburg. it wasn't bad, but enough to make drivers panic and make the driving stressful. the snow was light and wasn't sticking to the roads. by the time i got to manassas, the snow was starting to stick on the grass and parked cars.

looking back, i guess the trip wasn't so bad after all. i never really let the flat tire, the stopped traffic or the snow bother me. in fact, the blown tire was probably a blessing in disguise - i didn't think a flat tire would be such good news!!! i wasn't on a time schedule, so whenever i got there, i got there. and while i would rather be on my motorcycle, being in a car was probably better for this trip...


while i didn't take the bike on the trip up to virginia, i have been able to ride around town a little. as i mentioned before, not as much riding as i want to be doing, but some. and for now, i'll settle for that...