Singing in the Rain

No, not really. It should be, riding in the rain – singing in the rain just sounded better…

All it took was a touch of cabin fever!

The weather was crappy – cold, wet and a little windy. Definitely not great biking weather and to even contemplate a ride seemed ludicrous! But the decision was made and as I was keen to get the feel of the big BMW GS1200LC GS in wet conditions so I donned the thermal underwear and riding gear and marched resolutely out to the Man Cave…

My rain suit strapped to rear of the GS, I was soon heading up the road, a slight drizzle making dark spots on my jacket sleeves and misting over the visor a little. Not a  biggie, I thought – it’ll soon stop… At the top of the road I swung right and headed to the freeway. In no time at all, the few rain drops became proper rain making my sleeves damp and punching through my riding pants. This was not good!

A cold and wet KwaZulu Natal Midlands landscape with the Drakensberg disappearing into the clouds.
A cold and wet KwaZulu Natal Midlands landscape with the Drakensberg disappearing into the clouds.

No problem and I pulled into the fuel station in Merrivale and attempted to climb into my rain suit… Since I’m not a great fan of riding in the wet I had forgotten how much of a mission it was to put on a rain suit. I flailed around for a while, like some madman doing an ancient rain dance and after considerable effort I found myself ensconced, nay, packaged in the garment, much like meat is packaged in a sausage. This silly idea of riding in the rain had become a bit of a challenge now and I began to regret the decision to ride. It was no longer your average Sunday breakfast run!

And the rain came down (the rain dance seemed to have worked). It came down in bucket loads. I could hear it hitting the rain suit, the visor – even the windscreen. The visor was doing a great job of keeping most of the water out and I thought that all was well. I was dry and the heated grips were doing a great job of convincing me that I was warm.

By now I was pretty focussed and made the decision to sit at a comfortable 100km/hr. I had also decided to stay on the freeway as the plan was to have breakfast at Barbz Restaurant in Nottingham Road which is easily accessible from Mount West and N3. There was little or no appeal to ride the old R103 as the mist had descended and I had no desire to share the road with ill-disciplined road users who made no adjustments to their driving style as a result of the poor road and weather conditions. At least the freeway provided more space…

I checked the ambient temp on the BM’s dash. 3.5°C! What was I thinking??!!! I was starting to look forward to that hot cappuccino…

The good and the bad. Yes, the heated grips are on but the thermometer says 3.5 degrees.
The good and the bad. Yes, the heated grips are on but the thermometer says 3.5 degrees.

I must say that the traffic that there was turned out to be well mannered and seemed mindful of other road users. For this, I was most grateful. I’m sure that passing motorists thought that anyone on a motorcycle in the conditions such that they were, must be completely nuts! I wouldn’t have disagreed!

I pulled into Gowrie Village Estate and parked just outside Barbz. After clambering up the stairs I proceeded to disrobe or rather up-pack myself. If anything, this was more difficult than getting into the packaging, er, rain suit. People were beginning to stare and a young mother nearby pulled her 2 little girls closer to her skirts and hurried off. Much later I found myself in the warmth of the restaurant and all was good – the cappuccino was hot and the haddock and poached eggs were brilliant!

While munching away I reflected on the wet ride and the fact that I still had to ride home. What stood out for me was that I had remained dry and warm despite the conditions and this led me to thinking that as long as one is properly prepared for wet and chilly riding, all will be well! It goes almost without saying that one’s mental approach to riding in relatively treacherous conditions forms a large part of the success of a challenging ride – the adventure… Would I do it again? Maybe… Not in a hurry!

The BMW GS1200LC looking good and very much at home in the wet rainy weather. Traction control, ABS braking and all the other "aids" were very welcome.
The BMW GS1200LC looking good and very much at home in the wet rainy weather. Traction control, ABS braking and all the other “aids” were very welcome.

I think though that I’m now happier in the knowledge that I found that I can manage wet tar on a cold day. With the right approach and gear it’s do-able!

And yes, the rain suit does work! And so do the heated grips.

Stay safe out there, keep the rubber side down!

Bruce Houghting

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