By October 29, 2008

Still a little damp

The first half of my ride home from Georgia was great. I was moving along at a good clip, and the sun was bright and shining.

That is, until I got to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Fayetteville seems to be the tipping point for bad motorcycle weather. On my trip down, my route south of Fayetteville was completely covered by rain. I guess the northern part of my return trip got jealous and wanted to get in on the “fun.”

It rained non-stop, and hard, all the way home. It wasn’t as bad as my trip down, but it was a soaking rain. Paranoid (and hopefully wiser) from my gear problems on the way down, I adjusted my waterproofing strategy slightly.

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The last time Raider was dry for the rest of the trip.

The fog inside my helmet wasn’t nearly as bad this time, but the cold was much worse. I dressed for warmth right away. I put my CoolMax balaclava on and then covered my throat with a fleece neck gaiter. The gaiter would keep cold air from rushing down the back of my jacket, and was the ultimate line of defense against water seepage. I unfurled the hood of my Frogg Togg jacket and put it on over the balaclava. It made it hard to turn my head all the way, but I was determined not to spring a leak like on my trip down.

Tour Master silk glove liners went on next. I put my Fahrenheit gloves over my Cayenne Pro jacket. I then stretched the Frogg Toggs over the gauntlets on the gloves. If water wanted to get to my hands, it would have to totally defeat the membrane in the gloves, or make a crazy “S” pattern past the Toggs and my jacket. It was a total pain in the ass to do it, especially with the Fahrenheit’s thick fingers, but it was worth it.

I didn’t know what to do differently about my boots, except to make damn sure the zippers were all the way down on both my Frogg Toggs and my Motoport pants. I checked the hook and loop on the Frogg Toggs twice.

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My last stand before heading out into the rain.

I still froze my ass off, despite my preparations. The rain and wind speed was too much for Raider’s hand guards and heated grips. I had to stop about forty miles from home because my hands felt like blocks of ice. I’ve gotten frostbite while riding a motorcycle before, and I was not eager to damage my hands. Luckily I was able to sit in a Starbucks off of I-95 long enough to enjoy an Americano and let my body temperature go back up.

Raider was a dream to ride yet again. The weight differential and the suspension are what made the difference between my R1150R and my FZ6. The R1150R felt so stable, even at high speeds. If you have to be cold, wet, and barely see, you might as well earn the satisfaction of passing cagers in their comfy automobiles at 85MPH.

By the time I got home my hands were freezing again. My feet were also cold, and I could feel water squishing in my SmartWool socks. However, no water penetrated the gauntlets, and despite the hems of my Frogg Toggs being absolutely saturated the Motoport mesh kevlar pants were still dry on the outside.

My Cayenne Pro jacket was a little damp near the neck. I think there was some inevitable seepage, but it was much better than on Friday. Putting up the hood was a big help this time. It also helped my head from getting as cold. The Frogg Toggs did their job.

The Rev’It Fahrenheit gloves were damp on the inside again. I think the pressure and exposure overcame the waterproof barrier. Worse yet, the leather was completely saturated and that sucked the heat right off of my hands. That’s not the fault of the gloves specifically, but the idea of leather waterproof gloves in general. Leather is like a sponge — or in this case, an icy icy fucking sponge. I was surprised that my hands were much more dry than my trip down, but disappointed that they were still damp.

I rode for over four hours in very heavy rain. My lowest highway speed was 45MPH when traffic had to navigate around a crash. My highest speed was a touch over 90MPH. The lowest temp was 21F adjusted for windchill. I think the average temperature north of Fayetteville was below freezing. I was satisfied with how my gear performed, especially given my water-logged experience three days prior. However, I will be looking forward to wearing my new Tour Master Synergy heated gloves on dry days, and need a textile glove alternative for rainy ones.

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