By CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 KRISTOPHER A. PHILLIPS, A Company, 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment,1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas August 23, 2011
I'm what you'd call a "50-50" rider. If the chance of rain is greater than 50 percent or the temperature is lower than 50 F, I'd prefer not to ride. The temperatures had been consistantly above 50 F for the last few days, so I decided to skip checking the weather and just ride into work. After all, since each day had been a little warmer than the previous one, why bother?
Well, wouldn't you know it, Mother Nature decided to play a trick on me. After conducting my "accu-window" weather check and confirming it was "clear, blue and 22," I grabbed my motorcycle personal protective equipment (PPE) and suited up. After telling my wife goodbye, I mounted up and started the ride. The trip to work was uneventful.
I got to the office and was greeted with a few "Hi's." When I took off my PPE and turned around, I saw the company rider-mentor looking at me inquisitively. He asked, "Did you ride in today?" For a moment I thought of telling him, "Nope, I'm just wore my PPE today so I could break it in." But, after consideration, I decided not to say that and answered, "Yep " I rode in."
It was at this point he decided it was a good time to inform me of my error of not checking The Weather Channel. Apparently the 55 to 60 F temperatures of the past few days were not to be. The forecast was calling for temperatures in the low 30s by 10 or 11 a.m., with rain and a chance of snow afterward.
Instead of heading back home with my tail between my legs to fetch my Honda Pilot, I decided to wait until lunch to ride home. After lunch, we were to meet at a theater on the main post for a briefing and then be released. The theater was only about 10 minutes from the hangar and from there it was only another 10 minutes to home. I figured I could ride slowly on post to reduce the effect of the wind chill on my body. Boy, was I about to be surprised!
We headed to lunch a little before 11 a.m. to get a head start on the traffic. The weather was still bearable enough to ride straight home and swap vehicles, but I opted to go out with the guys for lunch. This was my second chance to go home and swap vehicles, but, instead, I decided to "tough it out."
While we were eating lunch, the sky fell in. As we headed for the theater, I was given a third opportuinity to avoid riding in the rain and cold. One of my buddies offered to take me in his vehicle to the theater. But, since it was only a short distance, I decided to ride.
I got to my motorcycle and waved to my buddy as he took off for the briefing. As I mounted my bike, I thought, "Man, it is cold!" However, now I was stuck with my decision.
I'd barely pulled out when I was already drenched. However, I kept telling myself, "I can do this!" I got about halfway to the theater when I lost feeling in my hands. The rain had also pooled between the gas tank and my legs and was starting to freeze. At that point I decided to go straight home, change into some dry clothes and get warm before hypothermia set in.
This experience taught me to always check the weather from a respectable source before heading out to ride. After all, I'd never take off on a flight without backing up my accu-window forecast with an actual weather briefing. The same thing goes for riding. Never fool with Mother Nature.