By September 29, 2006

Water water everywhere

I decided to cut my motorcycle trip a day short in order to beat out a rain storm and twenty degree temperature drop in Syracuse. I left New York at 9AM under the threat of dark clouds and a steady wind. Despite the annoying wind, I made it all the way through New York state and Pennsylvania without any rain. I crossed into Maryland and the gray clouds broke, and the sun shone down on me. It was an omen! I whooped, happy to be out of the gloom. Then the sun left as quickly as it came. Black clouds rolled in, and I was soaked in a downpour.


I pulled over in Frederick to wait out the rain and put on my waterproof jacket. I covered my bike, fearing that my newly-wired heated grips might short (paranoia). I stopped for a cup of coffee, and the sun starting shining as soon as I walked inside. One medium coffee later, not one drop fell onto my bike. I put on my Goretex rain jacket anyway and hit the road, sun shining. I even started to sweat a little.

I arrived in Rockville at 3PM. I was hesitant to continue south. The after-work commute had already started, and I didn’t feel like battling the traffic. I’d already been in one jam in PA earlier in the day, and twenty minutes of nursing first gear sandwiched between a Nissan and a semi wasn’t my idea of a good time. I sent Configuratrix a text message and had another cup of coffee.

Once again, sunshine turned to black clouds. It rained so hard the drops were ricocheting off of the pavement. Lighting flashed in the sky, and this continued throughout the rest of the afternoon and through dinner. My favorite coffee shop closed at 9PM, and after that I didn’t have any place to go. I put my gear back on at 8:45 and hit the highway.

Riding in the rain on a motorcycle is a little trickier than in a car. Having half of the wheels is a big problem, and making turns and stops can be tricky. The worst part of all, however, is the decreased visibility. By the time I got to the freeway entrance in Rockville I was unable to see clearly. I was in a catch 22: if I put my visor down my helmet fogged up. If I left my visor up I was pelted in the face by rain. I opted for partial, fog-free vision and was pummeled from the mouth down the entire trip back home.

My plan was to go slowly and stay in the right hand lane. That was apparently the plan of 90% of the DC-area drivers, who wanted to go 35MPH in the right hand lane. I was comfortable (except for the rain-pelting) going the limit of 55MPH, which meant that I either had to pass cars in the right lane or stick in the middle lane. The middle lane wasn’t a picnic, either: semi trucks and other drivers experienced in foul weather driving used the middle lane to pass each other. The only thing scarier than passing a semi truck at night in the rain going uphill is being passed by a semi truck at night in the rain going downhill.

I was happy to make it out of the DC-metro area, and there was a lull in the storm in Fredericksburg. I fed Cylon some gas, called Lady Jaye and my mom to let them know I wasn’t a grease spot, and hit the road again. I was rain-free until the toll road that takes me home. It wasn’t as bad as the rain in Maryland, but the visibility was worse, because there are no lights on the toll road and there were fewer cars to help light the way. At one point, the toll road splits into three directions. I couldn’t see any lines on the tarmac and just hoped I was in the right lane. Luckily there was very little traffic and I was able to feel my way along.

More face-pelting, cold feet, being wet, and squinting — you get the idea. I made it off the freeway and to the main road. All was good, and I just had to make a few more left hand turns and I’d be home. Left arrow illuminates, I make my turn … and wind up going the wrong way down the street. I couldn’t see the lines in the road, and the concrete divider isn’t painted. I knew there was a gap in the divider a little further down the road, and it was only a matter of avoiding oncoming traffic until then. Right as I settled on a plan of action I spied two headlights coming at me. I started flashing my high-beams, and they moved over without so much as a honk or a finger. I slid back over to the right side of the road, and the rest of my trip was incident free.

Total travel time from Rockville to Richmond, with one stop: two hours and fifty minutes. Fuck you, rain. I made it home anyway.

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Posted in: motorcycling

4 Comments on "Water water everywhere"

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  1. Ed says:

    Hmm, my storms failed. I will have to have a little talk with Thor about this…

  2. cymwyd says:

    You *always* have a place to stay in the RKV area!

  3. Ric says:

    For the visor misting, If you pull your jaw back, you can direct your exhalation down if you breathe out through your mouth, this way it misses the visor, and if you crack it slightly open as well, it is acceptable (many crash helmets have a widget to lock the visor an eighth of an inch or so open)

    Alternativelty, fog city and pinlock make excellent visor inserts that pretty much solve the problem by effectivley double glazing the visor.

  4. drfaulken says:

    I’ll definitely look into the Fog City or Pinlock offerings. The helmet I just bought doesn’t have a breath guard, unlike my composite helmet that was my main lid until recently. It would be nice to keep the fog off of my visor, especially once I start wearing my balaclava in colder weather.