Thursday, July 22, 2010

When the rain comes, you run and hide your head...

Well, some of you do, anyway.

It's been said that, "If you don't ride when it rains, you're not a rider." I guess, to some extent, that's true. The same holds true for the owner of the show bike that rides a few miles to the nearest biker hang-out and watches from afar as others admire his bike and ask about it. That person is not a rider.

Just as a writer, writes; a rider rides. And when you ride and put in a good, long day of travel, you know that you're eventually going to encounter rain. Sometimes it's not too bad, a soft drizzle that makes the pavement just oily enough for you to crash. And other times, it's a torrential downpour, icy cold and laden with hail. Hail hurts! The only thing to do when you encounter that beastie is to find cover and wait it out.

Sure, you can ride in a gentle rain, depending on what gear you're wearing. So, you get a little wet, pass through some showers and then dry out on the other side. That's actually kind of fun (and cooling, too!). It's the day-long rain that you HAVE TO PASS THROUGH that makes a rain suit a "must-have".

But otherwise, riding in the rain does not have to be daunting or even miserable. Yes, you will want to reduce your speed. Yes, you will want to carefully watch your lane placement, so you can avoid the spray of oncoming traffic or to avoid getting clipped by the overwhelmed motorist overtaking you on your Six. A good rain suit makes all the difference in the world.

For years I put off buying one, assuming that my weather-resistant textile suit would adequately protect me. Until one day it didn't. And then, there I was, sitting in a cold pool that was my saddle. If you want to experience this for yourself, fill your tub halfway with cold water. Then, don your riding gear, boots and all, and climb into the tub. How does that feel after a few minutes? Nice?

We were coming South through the mountains a few years ago, when I had that unpleasant experience and it gave me pause for thought. So, when we were planning the Sturgis ride, with the prospect of 600+ mile days, I knew that we would be riding no matter what the weather. I invested in a good quality rain suit and I can count on one hand the number of times I've HAD to wear it.

If you can't afford rain gear, get a can of ScotchGuard and spray the heck out of your textile suit. Be careful not to inhale that stuff though, as it is quite damaging to your lungs. This will give you about a season's worth of wet weather, provided you don't launder your gear. If you do, re-apply the ScotchGuard.

Fair weather riders (or those who live in the high desert) won't need to read this post but, like a good helmet, a good quality rain suit will make living on your motorcycle a more pleasurable experience. And, while you're at it, invest in a pair of good waterproof boots, as well. There's no point in being dry from the ankles up, if you're feet are ready to fall off from the cold & damp.

A low, dry wave,

Joe Rocket

PS - I don't often put in a postscript but, I started this blog a week or two ago and then set it aside...Since that time, friends returned from a one-week trip down south. On the way, they encountered heavy rain, up to 4 hours at a time. After that daunting day, they agreed that they both needed to upgrade their rain gear. After doing so, at the nearest Harley-Davidson boutique (ka-ching!), it didn't rain again for the remainder of the trip. Oh well, they'll have it now, when they need it next...

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