Stuck in the Intertropical Convergence Zone

One of the fears of sailors prior to the advent of powered vessels was to get stuck for days or weeks in that part of the world's oceans called the Equatorial Calms, or simply, the doldrums. No wind and calm seas for weeks on end meant potential disaster for ships that got caught in these zones - technically called the Intertropical Convergence Zones. Well guess what buckos and swabbies - we're stuck in one of these zones right now - at least if you ride a motorcycle. It's been nine weeks, with no end in sight. Stuck in the doldrums. Instead of calm tropical seas with no wind, the northern USofA is stuck in a non-tropical zone of ice, snow, cold, and slippery roads that mean that virtually nothing on two wheels moves. Stuck in the Zone. The Doldrums. The Winter Calms. It stinks!

But in the heart of the doldrums the first signs of a breeze make themselves felt. In February, many gardeners and farmer-wannabes take delight at the arrival of the first seed catalogs in the mail. These catalogs are filled with pictures of beautiful flowers and fruit-ladened branches and vines. Order the seeds or plants now in time for planting when the frost leaves the soil. I've anxiously awaited the arrival of such catalogs for decades.
The same thing happens in the world of motorcycles. In mid-winter catalogs begin arriving in the mail from companies such as RiderWearhouse, Whitehorse Gear, and many other motorcycle clothing and accessory distributors that, like the Sears catalog of old, depend on lovers of slick pages filled with gear that every motorcyclist feels they must have, to survive financially another year. These catalogs arrive just when it seems there is no end to the doldrums; when it feels like we are caught fast in the weeds of the Sargasso Sea never to sail free again.
These catalogs are fun to look at beyond their daydreaming value. I enjoy perusing the witty sayings and motorcycling colloquialisms printed on T-shirts meant for bikers who want to send a message or elicit a snicker. From the no frills "Cars Suck", to the picture of a nun on a bike with the words "Wherever there is sin - There I must ride". Or "The Road to Enlightenment is more fun on a Bike". "Nuke and Pave" and "Refined Hydrocarbon Recycler" are a couple of the less politically correct, while "When in Doubt, Ride" seems quite unoffensive to all but the most anti-two wheeler. There are obviously many in the X-rated category as well, but those are sold in catalogs that haven't put me on their mailing list yet. It's also always quite an eye opener to see how many dozens of books are in print and sold in these catalogs that are about the motorcycling lifestyle or bikes themselves.
This is also the time of year when the International Motorcycle Shows make the rounds in places like New York, Toronto and Chicago, exhibiting the best of the manufacturers from around the world. Much like the North American Auto Show, held in January in Detroit, these shows are a chance to spend a day inside to walk and gawk and even touch; surrounded by objects of beauty and craftsmanship that represent the promise of warmer days and open roads.

I noticed today that the department stores now have spring and summer clothing on display. Winter coats and boots must be requested if they are the purpose of one's shopping trip in January in Michigan - the stores have already moved on, even if the seasons haven't. Bathing suits and short sleeved shirts are on display, not January garb.
I have to be realistic and face the fact that we are stuck deep in the Winter Doldrums in that part of the country north of the freezing fortieth degree of latitude....but I think I detect just a bit of a breeze. Ten more weeks and we will get out of the InterArctic Convergence Zone and on the open road once again!