W hen I was leaving Rochester Monday morning, it was minus four degrees out and Highway 14, was still snow and ice packed in a lot of spots. Coming off of the 52 Exit I spotted something that you don't see everyday.
All winter long I have seen Facebook posts of friends saying they saw a man riding a dirt bike through the snow and even the polar vortex. Most sightings were on 63 in Rochester but a few were from Highway 14. I wondered if this was the same guy. I followed the dirt bike to Byron where it turned into a parking lot and I was able to stop and talk to the driver.
I met Ted Darga, and yes, he is the infamous Winter Warrior I have seen Facebook posts about.
Darga lives in Rochester and every Monday he makes the 12-mile commute to work at Fix Power Sports in Byron. Tuesday through Saturday he works at Cycle City in Rochester. "That commute is only about four miles," he explained. "It's a little bit easier." A twelve and four mile winter commute would seem to be an easy one, only Darga does it on his dirt bike. Everyday.
Through the polar vortex that gripped the state earlier this winter, plummeting temperatures to fifty below zero with wind chill, Darga was still making his commute on his dirt bike. Last Thursday and Friday when ten inches of snow and ice had rendered travel impossible for most of us, Darga still made his commute on his dirt bike both days. "It was a little bit more difficult both of those days, but I made it without dumping the bike."
I asked Darga if he had ever tipped his bike over because of the snow and ice. As he slowly got off his, bike he winced a little. "I tipped it over this morning," he said. "It normally happens about once a year, the big chunks of ice can be tricky to maneuver around." Darga said he was only going about thirty miles an hour when he tipped over Monday morning and didn't hurt himself too badly. "I'll be a little sore and walk funny for a few days," he said. "But I'll be fine."
This is far from the first winter that Darga has ridden his dirt bike all winter and it won't be his last. When I asked him why he chose to commute on his dirt bike during the winter, he said it's all about the challenge. "I like the physical and the mental challenge of riding in the winter," he explained. "It's about challenging myself physically to handle the cold and the obstacles that riding in snow and ice bring. But it's also the mental challenge of it all." He said the mental challenge of winter riding is harder than the physical challenge. "The mental part of it riding in the winter is strenuous, I have to be very cautious and be very alert at all times." Being aware of not only traffic but of ice and snow on the roads as well. "That's where my tip over this morning came in, I wasn't being mentally cautious enough and I hit a hard chunk of ice."
I asked Darga what he did after he tipped his bike over this morning. He did the same thing he's done every other time he's taken a spill. "I picked it up, got back on and kept riding."
Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Article comment by: