Bay Area

Lifelong Learning: A Ride In the Rain

Tyler, a good friend of mine and a wonderful person in the motorcycling community, recounts a story that I never really understood.  She was riding through Kern Canyon at night in the pouring rain.  She spoke of that evening as a wonderful experience and as I listened intently I kept thinking what an awful ride out on the bike.  All I could think about was dark, cold, and miserable.

This morning I was hosting HomotoCamp.  It’s the club’s annual outing on our bikes for an overnight that doesn’t involve a hotel.  Some of the guys consider Motel 6 camping.  This is the real thing.  I had checked the weather and saw that it was likely going to rain.  I struggled if I should cancel the ride is camping in the rain sucks.  Right as I was about to pull the plug I got an email from Robert saying “weather looks awesome, see you in a few.”  I through all my stuff together, hopped on the bike, and was out the door with both of us a little unsure of the day ahead.

It was my first True Grit ride in a very long time.  True Grit rides are those rides when the weather sucks and there is grit and dirt all over the road.  The last ride I intentionally set out in the rain was back in 2008 on my way to Georgia.  On that ride it was pouring rain in the Sierras along Interstate 80.  I was thinking I should delay by a day but it turned out not delaying the trip was the right thing on a number of levels.  I figured if I couldn’t get out of California I had a long way to go if I ever thought I was getting to Georgia.  🙂

In California it’s usually not warm and wet.  It only rains in the winter time here so it’s wet and cold.  On the motorcycle I’m usually amenable to either wet or cold but certainly not both.  All motorcyclists know there is cold and cold on a motorcycle.  Wet can make “cold on a motorcycle” miserable.  We got rain Friday night so the roads were damp.  The problem was we were riding between fronts.  It was just a matter of time before the heavens opened up again.  It was also the first real rain of the season.  All of the oil, tar, and who knows what else came up out of the asphalt to make things extra slick.

The ride was great.  We stuck to some pretty simple roads as the goal was to get over to the rodeo for camping that night.  We took Skyline Boulevard down to Tunitias Creek Road.  Tunitias Creek Road was very slow going.  The wet weather combined with a lot of debris on the road made the single lane road treacherous.  The wet weather made for some amazing scenes I wish I could’ve pulled my motorcycle over and taken detailed photographs.  We followed highway 1 down to Pescadero and headed back into the mountains along Pescadero Road.  I decided against bringing the group up Alpine Road due to the amount of debris Tunitias Creek Road.  Sprinkles started to get heavier right as we reached Alice’s Restaurant.

Brunch at Alice’s was awesome.  A cup of hot tea did my bones right as well as the breakfast burrito.  The food at Alice’s isn’t exactly great, but because you’ve been on a motorcycle, mediocre becomes good.  As we were eating breakfast waves of heavy rain came through.

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We kept delaying leaving to see if the rain would let up.  Finally, after feeling guilty for holding the table we conceded that the rain was going to win on this one.  We geared up, headed our separate ways, and agreed that camping was not in the cards for the group.

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The ride back home actually was really fun.  Rain reduces traction between the tires and the road.  Because of that, all of the fundamentals of motorcycling came back to me.  In the MSF course they teach you: slow, look, lean, roll.  In each turn I kept reminding myself of those four words.  Because I had to really focus on the mechanics of riding in a completely new setting I found that I enjoyed it more.  I wasn’t riding fast.  That wasn’t the intent.  It was to connect with my motorcycle in a new environment.  I’m glad I didn’t take the freeway home.  That would’ve been miserable.  Instead I took Skyline Boulevard down to Highway 9 and stopped at “Four Corners.”

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Everything was wet, the motorcycle, my gear, and the world around me.  The surprising thing was, I was dry!

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I put my LifeProof iPhone case to the test.  It claims to be waterproof so I had fun taking photos in the pouring rain.  Here’s what it looks like to be riding in the rain in Australia.  I forgot to walk to the other side of the road.  🙂

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The rain eased as I came down the mountain.  I did seem to hit every light though!  Right as I was getting home in a slap of irony the rain roared once more but alas, I was only a half mile from home.

Tyler, you were right.  I’m sure you did have a wonderful ride that night.  I don’t doubt that.  I do think the lesson you taught me in that conversation was to enjoy the world around you for who and what it is.  You see, you taught me that over and over again as long I’ve known you.  This was just another experience to validate how important here and now really is.

Thank you.

Now who’s up for the rodeo in the pouring rain?

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Categories: Bay Area

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