As the corny saying goes “In Minnesota if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes.” Cheesy but true. This riding season has been either wet and cold or hot and sticky. Neither makes riding easier but certainly not impossible. As Minnesota residents we are pretty adaptable when it comes to weather, we need to be. The temperature change from summer highs to winter lows is over 130 degrees. So despite my naturally hardy nature due to my surroundings and natural insulation why do my coworkers giggle and offer taunts like “Have a nice ride, He-he-he-he” every time it’s raining or under 60 degrees.
I own a basic rain suit and waterproof gloves. They do an excellent job of keeping me relatively dry in the rain for hours on end but even if I do get wet, it’s only water. It’s the same stuff you and I shower in everyday. That’s why I can’t figure out why riding in the rain is considered such lunacy. I’d understand if rained medical waste or molten lava, but it’s only water. If I get wet, well then I’m wet. It’s not like I’m made of sugar. And contrary to what they may think, my bike will not magically shoot out from under me without warning. The rain doesn’t make riding conditions ideal but it still better than driving a car.
When it rains you need to exercise caution, that’s a no-brainer. But you don’t need to use any more caution when riding on a wet road than a dry one. Let me explain. The things you need to be aware of on dry road are the same things you need to be aware of on a wet road. The only difference is that in the rain your margin for error is less. On a nice sunny day as you roll down your favorite stretch of road you’re scanning the road ahead for: sand, distracted parents in a minivan turning left in front of you, armadillos, bears, etc. and constantly adjusting your riding due to all these factors. On a rainy day you’re doing the exact same thing. The amount of traction available for braking, accelerating and cornering is less, but you’ve simply adjusted your riding to make up for the loss.
Despite what you might think weather is the primary factor in very few motorcycle crashes. This is supported by the Hurt Study, which showed that weather was a contributing factor in only 2% of the accidents studied. Even if you hate to ride in the rain and refuse to buy a rain suit you should practice a little wet weather riding. Better to know what to expect than to get caught blind.
So ride fast and take chances, but this month try it in the rain.