I have said it in this column before, I am a fair-weather rider. I don’t do rain and I don’t do dirt roads either. The reason I don’t ride in the rain has nothing to do with a fear of traction or lack of confidence on wet roads. In fact, if you go way back to my brief road racing career in the early 90’s, I could actually hustle my RZ 350 around a wet track at a fairly decent pace on those skinny little tires. The reason I don’t like to ride in the rain is quite simple really. It all comes down to my bike getting dirty and having to try to clean areas of the bike that have never been dirty before. Since buying my bike out of the showroom a couple of years ago I have done a remarkable job of keeping it clean. Generally, a cleaning for my bike has involved a duster and a little wipe with a microfiber cloth. I constantly check the forecast before I ride and a 30% chance of precipitation seems to be my tipping point. I can go either way on that one depending on what the hourly forecast looks like. Once we hit a 40 percent chance however there is a 100 percent chance my bike will not be leaving the garage that day. When people have been draining their pools onto the road in the fall I have been known to turn around and circle the block just to avoid that trickle of water going across the road. Yes, going into my third summer of riding my bike it had never seen a wet road let alone actual rain. All of that changed a couple of Sundays ago however when my poor bike had its first wet weather experience.
My daughter’s fiancé Logan owns a Harley and was scheduled to do a motorcycle course on this particular Sunday. Things were not looking good for Logan right off the hop as he spent almost his entire Saturday fighting with electrical problems on his bike. If that wasn’t bad enough the forecast for Sunday looked dismal as it was going to be below ten degrees and it was calling for rain virtually all day. After finally winning the electrical battle with his bike (for now), Logan figured all he would have to worry about the next day was the weather. Boy was he wrong.
As promised, the weather on Sunday was horrible as it was cool and the rain was coming down pretty much constantly. Looking out the window as I sipped my coffee in the comfort of my living room, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Logan as I imagined the miserable time he must be having at his course. The thought was barely out of my head when my wife’s phone rang. With her in the shower, I took a glance at it and saw it was Logan calling. Answering the phone, I was met with a brief pause as Logan was no doubt expecting Kim to answer. Perhaps Logan was hoping Kim would be the middleman in the conversation that was to follow but due to the current circumstances he was stuck with me. Over the next minute and a half through some stammering and pauses, I was able to decipher that the lights on Logan’s bike had stopped working and he wasn’t allowed to ride it any more in the course. Logan was hoping, although he certainly understood if I said no, if he could come and borrow my bike to complete his course. After giving him the gears for a few seconds and reminding him how clean my bike currently was, I agreed, almost not believing the words as they came out of my mouth.
Hanging up the phone I immediately went to the garage and opened the roll up door. Despite my praying for a solid eight seconds on the way to the garage, I was crushed when I saw that the weather hadn’t cleared up and the roads become instantly dry since I had left the living room. I took a few pics of my bike as I figured this would be the last time it would ever be clean. Although no words were spoken, I know my bike could feel my pain as I shook my head and gave the seat a little pat, all the while hoping that Logan’s bike would miraculously fix itself as he was on his way over.
A few minutes later Logan arrived and to my disappointment the Harley had not fixed itself and in fact I’m convinced the Harley had seen enough of the crappy weather and said, “Screw this noise. I’m shuttin ‘er down for the day.” Logan, looking like a drowned rat, could barely look at me as he got off his Harley and made his way towards my bike. I wished him luck but once again reminded him of how clean I expected my bike to be after he was done with it. When Logan hopped on my bike I almost felt sorry for him again as I can only imagine how different my bike felt compared to what he was used to. Watching him ride away, it was obvious he was uncomfortable as he was visually searching out the controls on the bike while the right signal light blinked in protest all the way down the street until he was out of sight.
Over the next few hours, I tried my best not to think of my bike but it was pretty tough. I kind of felt like a pet owner with a missing dog but I stopped short of hanging posters of my bike all over town. My wife and I went to the grocery store so that was a bit of a distraction but when we exited the store into another downpour I let out an audible groan. A little while later I got word from my daughter that Logan was on his way back to my place and of course I ran right to the garage when I heard the bike. My bike was dirty. So dirty. Logan apologized numerous times and gave me his word that he would make it spotless once again. Its not that I didn’t believe him, but the sting of seeing my bike used and abused was still fresh. For the next couple of hours I made sure to remind Logan that my bike had never seen rain before and the poor kid took the abuse like a champ.
The good news is that Logan passed his course. As promised, he spent the better part of an evening returning my bike to its former glory but I’m positive he might have missed a couple of spots. He told me afterwards that it was easier to ask for permission to marry my daughter than it was to ask to borrow my bike. If I was my daughter, I would be worried about that. After all of this I still won’t ride in the rain. It just seems like so much work to get it clean afterwards. Looking out the window I see that my truck is looking filthy. Wonder if Logan needs to borrow that anytime soon?
- From Todd Vallee