When you recommend motorcycling to someone, they’ll almost immediately conjure any number of reasons why they’ll never swing a leg over a bike. There are a few refusals you’ll likely immediately hear: “It’s not safe” (debatable, but mostly true), “you can’t carry anything” (demonstrably false), and “you’ll get stuck in the rain.”
This last one, I found this weekend, is the least convincing argument of them all. Getting caught out in the rain on a bicycle may be a drag, but on a bike? It’s an absolutely fantastic time.
Full disclosure: Honda let me and Bob spend a few hours tooling around New Paltz, NY on some of their current bikes. Bob rode a Goldwing, I rode an Africa Twin, and neither of us started Googling finance rates on the drive back to the city. Not at all.
For a few weeks, Bob and I tried to align our schedules in order to make a Honda ride work. He’d be gone the weekends I was here, I’d be gone when he made it back to the city. It took us a while to settle on a date, and that sunk time cost may have been the reason we didn’t call it off when rain soured the forecast.
We certainly thought about it. The drive out of Brooklyn started with a phone call, wondering if we should postpone our riding weekend further out. Instead, we decided to play it by ear — linking our comms together, and promising to stop for lunch and coffee if the weather got too bad.
It never did. What started as clouds turned into mist, and by the end of the ride into genuine rain. Droplets on my visor obscured my view, water threatened to pool in my new leather boots. And yet, despite the conditions, the ride was downright refreshing.
But how do you learn to like riding in the rain? Like much of motorcycling, it comes down to two things: Gear and attitude. Gear is the easy one: Get yourself a comfortable watertight jacket, a helmet with a visor that won’t fog (something I still need to get, I rode with my visor open) and a good pair of boots. That’s all it really takes.
The attitude, however, can be harder. At high speeds, rain can feel like needles hitting your skin — especially on your face, when your dumb foggy visor is wide open to let you see. It’s cold, grating, and uncomfortable. But if you shift your perspective, think about the rain as cool, bright, and refreshing, something changes. Your posture opens up, the sky seems a little brighter. Suddenly, this rainstorm is a joy.
I’m not going to say rain rides are the best rides, but they might be better than those 80-plus-degree days. Give rain rides a try, you just might like ‘em. Tonight, the forecast in New York calls for rain, and I hope to see you out on the roads.