Most bikers will tell you that, in general, the biggest challenge you face when riding (aside from an occasional car-driving moron turning into you, I suspect) is the weather and, more specifically, the rain. Well, I haven't ridden in the rain yet so I can state that my biggest challenge so far has been the wind.
I decided that if the weather is good next week, I'll take the plunge and ride the 360 miles to Spokane and back on my beautiful new BMW F650 GS. This trek will be by far the longest ride I've ever had, but if I take Highway 2 it promises to be a fairly interesting trip (as opposed to the ultra-boring I-90 corridor I take by car). Since this will be an overnighter, I'll need some way of packing over a change of clothes and a toothbrush, so I decided to hunt down a Joe Rocket "Jet Pack" backpack, which also has the nifty feature of a collapsable helmet bag built in. So off I go for a quick trip into The Big City to see if one of the three motorcycle shops had it.
I should have known better, nobody here had the thing in stock... but hey, even a futile trip is all good on a motorcycle! At least in theory... in the dozens of trips I've taken outside of town since I got the F650, this was the first one where I had to deal with gusting wind. Now, in a car, I probably wouldn't have noticed it much (if at all), but it's completely different when you're hanging on for dear life on a motorcycle! Sometimes I would find myself being slid over a full foot(!) when a particularly nasty gust came roaring through... other times I'd go for a corner on the highway and find that it was pretty tough to push against the wind, and had to abandon counter-steering for something I like to call "twist steering" which is a frightening turn of events where I am both pushing and pulling the handlebars to initiate a turn. Coming to a nice stop is no picnic either, because the slowed momentum means the wind just rocks you all the harder and makes it a bit tricky to stay upright. Heavy cruisers probably don't have quite as much problem with the wind as I do (the F650 GS is only 434-lbs. wet!), but that's a bit more motorcycle than I'm wanting right now.
Anyway, all things considered, cruising down the highway at 70mph while fighting the wind all the way is an even bigger thrill than skydiving, which is not something I anticipated... just a side-benefit.