1.28.2008,8:01 AM
Ninja Rider
This weekend was a strange mix of winter/spring weather. I woke up Saturday morning to dense fog and chilly temperatures. Because I was heading out to a TWT Pie Run on the Sherpa that morning I wore many many layers. I felt like the proverbial little kid in the snow suit with arms stuck out and waddling legs. I kept thinking about my heated grips and gear that I use on the Whee-strom the entire 53 miles to Ponder. And wishing I was on the Whee.

But the Whee was 'sick' and home under his cover so Sherpie was called into action that morning. I forewarned the rider following me on the ride that speeds would be conservative and to expect no one else to see us on the road in the fog. Having lived in Oregon for fourteen years I was used to dense fog. Texans here are not. It was rated the worst fog in fifty years. I just shrugged my shoulders and rode with extra caution.

The Sherpa took the rough winding curves of FM 407 like they were made for semi-knobby tires and a small bike. On the Whee, those curves elicit tank slappers at 10 mph less the speed I rode them on Saturday. The little bike flicks side to side so easily and grabs the road like it has big toes, I rarely shifted out of sixth gear. It was fun on the way, even more fun on the return trip when it was warmer.

Arriving at the Ranchman's Steakhouse in the tiny town of Ponder, Texas, I pulled in alongside other bikes in the middle of the street. The only place I know where parking is in the middle of the street. My fingertips were numb with cold and only hurt when the blood returned to them, pins and needles darting around under the skin and pouncing on pain receptors. I kept all my gear on except for the helmet until I entered the door before anyone else did. I knew the old gas stove would be on; warmth drew me in like a moth to a flame.

After lunch and a most delicious blackberry cobbler with ice cream, on with the gear again. The local riders have nicknamed me Miss Layers because I wear so many to stay warm. I lived in the North country long enough to develop a layer system: add for warmth, remove to cool as necessary. It works no matter where one lives.

Chuck caught me outside by the Sherpa geared up and ready to ride. The fog had recently lifted and the sun shone, but still not warm enough to remove any layers for riding. I am now 'Ninja Rider'.

Photo credit: Chuck Gilke

Ironically, the next day was warmer: in the 70's. For an urban trip in downtown Fort Worth, I rode the Sherpa again despite that the Whee was now repaired after yesterday's lunch. Riding the winding roads that hug Lake Worth, we found a network of single track! We plan to return and ride it on the little bikes another time.

Photo credit: Ed Hagarty

As well as being a Desert Rat, the Sherpa is a fantastic little Urban Assault bike. It wound in and through traffic and intersections like a wasp. It was a blast! In fact, it was so much fun we plan to do it again in the near future.

Of course, finding these large steeds prompted me to have the pony's photo taken with them. The ride home on a late Sunday afternoon was relatively devoid of traffic, warm, and, well, delicious.

Photo credit: Ed Hagarty

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posted by Macrobe
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