Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Polar Bear Ride 2011

So many things have changed in my life since last year (more on that later, I swear!).  For 2011, I want to shake off the old and create a whole new.  New what?  Me?  Life?  Outlook?  YES!  I want to redefine who I am, what I want from life and how I can make the places I inhabit better every day.  It's a tall order, I know, but I think I'm up to the challenge!

So, how do I kick off the new year if I want a new me?  I step out of my comfort zone!  In this case, I stepped WAAY out of my comfort zone!  And I have to say, I was richly rewarded by the experience!

When I started riding my motorcycle 6 years ago, I participated in a "Hangover Rally" with Troy on January 1st, 2005.  It was my first rally ever and quite an experience.  It was a balmy 50 degrees that year (balmy for January in Indiana, anyway!) and the group of riders that were on the poker run and at the rally were definitely not the type of riders I hang with now, but it was a great time anyway.

This year, I decided to up the ante.  A local group of riders that I've sort of been stalking on was planning a Polar Bear ride starting at Monument Circle in downtown Indy.  This sounded like an interesting event and although I'd never met any of the group and didn't have anyone who was going to ride with me, I decided to give it a go!  All week long before the January 1st ride, the weathermen kept calling for great weather (in the 50s) on Saturday, January 1st.  The more they forecasted, the more excited I got about the possibility of an off-season ride!  So, after a gorgeous day near 60 on Friday, December 31st, I prepped my bike for the ride the next afternoon.

Cut to Saturday, January 1st.  Ahem....the 50 degree temps?  No sign of them!  At about 10:30 on Saturday morning I checked the forecast and it was a bit bleak to say the least.  The high for the day was going to be about 39 and it would be dropping to near freezing around 5 PM.  My first instinct was to scrap the whole thing.  After all, it would be a much nicer day all warm and cozy in my house, right?

But wait!  No!  2011 is about a new me and trying new things!  How could I start that off right if I just stayed home?  After all the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right?  I may be crazy, but I'm not insane YET!  So I threw caution to the wind and piled on another layer of clothing as I set out on my motorcycle headed for downtown Indy.

Now, I only live about 6 miles from the circle, but I have to say it's a LONG 6 miles when the temps are low enough to see your breath.

Upon my arrival, I spotted my riding partners and they were a motley looking crew!  I was younger than them by a good 20 years and, oh yeah, I was a girl!

After a few moments of some awkward glances (you'd think these middle aged men clad in black leather had never seen a girl dressed in pink ride a motorcycle!), I introduced myself to the group and was instantly accepted as one of their own.

The goal for the day was to ride 1 mile for each degree of temperature.  It was assumed that each rider traveled about 10 miles to get there and 10 miles to get home (lucked out on that one!), so we rode a little less than 10 miles to a small pub near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where we ate, drank loads of hot coffee to warm ourselves up and enjoyed some great conversation getting to know one another.  After a few hours, we departed company and headed home.

The riders I spent the afternoon with were not people I would have necessarily been inclined to talk to, but that made the day all the better.  I had a wonderful time getting to know them and I was proud of myself that I stepped out of my comfort zone and hopefully made steps toward a new me in 2011.

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