On this particular day, I was not riding. Frankly, 114 degrees is too hot to go out riding for fun in the afternoon. When it's that hot out, the heat coming from the motor works together with the sun and the heat reflecting off the road and cars to punish anyone foolish enough to venture out without air conditioning. I've done my time riding in that kind of heat, and I'd just as soon avoid it when I'm able.
The biker I was meeting had ridden all night from Los Angeles. His bike is a newer Harley-Davidson Sportster, ratted out and modified until it looked like a much older Sportster. It was flat black, with a bamboo luggage rack he had built himself, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle cap epoxied on the top of the upper triple tree. As for the rider himself, he was dressed head to toe in black.
He told me he'd been having some motor troubles and almost hadn't made the trip. The bike had been making some strange noises, and he'd pulled the motor all apart trying to find the cause. He never did, but when he put it back together, it was making a different noise. A mechanic buddy of his told him he worried too much, and to get back to riding.
The morning of the trip, he'd stood looking at his machine, trying to decide whether or not to risk a six hour ride, including a couple hours through Death Valley, in the middle of the summer.
"So," he said, "I asked myself - what would Beowulf do?"
He took a swig of coffee, and continued.
"And I decided what Beowulf would do is go and kill himself some Grendel. So here I am."
You kind of have to admire that.