Ride long enough and you’ll eventually find yourself on the road, drenched and dreaming of home. Ride longer and you may find yourself dreaming of being drenched. This morning I rode away from the dry comfort of home into uncertain weather, a welcome break from endless days of sunshine and heat. The gray, dim morning– a reminder of cooler days ahead. The forecast predicted scattered showers, at times heavy, for most of the morning. Knowing I would not be riding far I left the raingear in the garage and opted for the more casual comfort of once water resistant riding jacket and pants. And if things really got bad I could breakout the waterproof rain jacket stored in the top case. In six years I have used it twice. I have a few rules when riding in the rain.
The first is to become one with the road surface so I don’t become one with the road surface in a physical sense.
Every rain is different and so is the character of the pavement. With so little rain in the past couple months there is a lot of stuff on the road that gets slippery when mixed with water. A few stops to walk on the road, test the friction with my boots, I can get a sense of what to expect in terms of traction. It’s not perfect but does provide clues to how to behave.
Another rule is to slow down
I’ve talked to more than a few riders who search for tires who offer perfect performance on wet pavement, preferring a technological fix for the weather rather than make mindful adjustments themselves. My personal belief is that no tire available will allow you to ride on wet roads like you do on dry ones. You just need to slow down, replace the desire to lean hard and power out of turns with one built around keeping the rubber side down.
Visibility – my own and my appearance to others.
I’ll stay on the road until the torrents interfere with my ability to see the road ahead. If visibility drops below a hundred yards or so I pull over and wait. And if I feel things are too hectic, or traffic too congested to place myself in a visible position, I’ll pull over and wait for conditions to improve.
The last rule I have is comfort.
I’ll ride wet but not cold. The moment I feel myself begin to focus on my body, the effect the weather is having on me, it’s time to stop and regroup. And I’ll stop as often as I need to. One of the advantages of riding alone—no one’s ego is in play dragging others on beyond their limits.The rain begins to fall hard on the way home. Water is pooled on my lap where the riding jacket forms a basin. Pelting water droplets feel like hundreds of little bee stings on my chest at 45mph. The jacket and pants are soaked through and water is running down my back. When I stop to make this picture I can barely see the LCD screen. Rain soaks the camera and I leave it on when I put it under the seat so the water on the lens barrel doesn’t migrate to the inside. Almost home I stop for one last picture, a reminder of rain and light and wet rides. The risk and discomfort are far exceeded by the rewards of the ride.