Seeing in the Rain
by bj max
Sugar Booger and I struggle to get into our rain suits under an I-40 overpass just outside of Knoxville. The forecast has called for scattered thunderstorms and for once the meteorologist hit the nail on the head. Scattered is the word. One minute we are riding in blazing sunshine and the next we’re in the middle of a driving rainstorm. This went on all the way from Knoxville to our home in Memphis, some three hundred ninety miles.
Fortunately, we have good rain suits and managed to stay relatively dry through the whole mess. But the cool rain combined with the high humidity fogged up my glasses to the point that I was literally riding blind. It got so bad at times that Sugar Booger had to talk me through the storms. You know, like John Wayne talking a shot up pilot down in one of those old WWII films. “Easssy does it. Back off the throttle a little. That’s it. You’re lookin’ good kid. Ah ha.”
At a gas stop I treat my glasses with this miracle anti-fog potion that I picked up at a rally somewhere. But like most miracle potions, it was a rip. The five dollars I paid for it would have been better spent if I had wrapped it around a rock and thrown it into the Mississippi River. But, with Sugar Booger guiding me, we managed to make it home without gettin’ killed.
Riding in the rain when I can see is bad enough, but riding in the rain when I can’t see is a thrill my old heart can do without. If I planned on pursuing my passion of long distance touring, I was gonna’ have to find a fix for this irksome and perilous problem. I ruled out a convertible top right off the bat. And yes, there is one available for the Gold Wing. I also ruled out the mid-evil jousting helmet that I stumbled across at an antique auction. It appeared to be an excellent appliance for warding off the thrust of an opponent’s lance but in heavy rain, water would most likely pour through the eye slits and with no visible drain, drown the rider. I moved on and continued my search for a solution.
Then, on our forty fourth wedding anniversary, Sugar Booger, as a token of her gratitude and appreciation for my wonderfulness, presented me with a copy of Charles Lindbergh’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “The Spirit of St. Louis”. On the cover was a great close up of the Lone Eagle hisself’ sporting the traditional leather flying helmet of the period and casually draped around his neck was a way cool pair of aviator goggles. As I admired the photo, it suddenly struck me that the answer to my foul weather curse was right there, hanging from Lindy’s neck. Goggles. Sure, that’s the ticket.
But goggles, I was to learn, ain’t exactly the hot item these days and after an all day search the only suitable pair I found was down at the local Harley store. And, naturally, they were overpriced. Eighty bucks for a pair of twenty dollar goggles. I don’t think so.
So I began plowing through magazines and accessory catalogues. Finally, in J. C. Whitney’s most recent release, I located an almost perfect re-production of the goggles Lindy was wearing on the cover of his book. And they were supposedly coated with, ahem, this miracle anti-fog potion. Called Roadhawks, these goggles were offered in a variety of styles. There was the anti-fog, coated lens, the anti-fog, tinted, coated lens and a third pair designed with us old geezers in mind; the anti-fog, coated over the glasses lens. All came with ventilation ports, top and bottom, and black leather frames with heavy duty padding. And, all of them met the high standards that I’ve always demanded in motorcycle accessories. They were cheap. So I settled on the over the glasses style, wrote ‘em a check and sent it in. When my goggles arrived I immediately put them on, stripped off my clothes and jumped in the shower; the most scientific method of testing anti-fog characteristics that I could dream up on the spur of the moment.
I cranked the shower knobs on full blast and got the bathroom so steamed up you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. But the goggles remained clear and fog free. Satisfied with my impromptu test and its results I turned off the shower, toweled myself dry and, still wearing the goggles, stepped from the bathroom into the hall.
At that very instant Sugar Booger, arriving home from work, entered the front door and upon seeing me standing there in the hall looking like some kind of alien pod racer, she quickly whipped out her pearl handled Colt Combat Commander and prepared to add a few auxiliary ventilation ports in my new goggles. Being an ex-military type, all my defensive training came rushing back and instinctively, without thought, I screamed, dropped to my knees and threw up my hands.
After convincing her that my new goggles didn’t really need the added ventilation she was intent upon providing, she put her pistol back in her trick gun totin’ purse and listened with a wary eye as I described my experiment and how it was all in the name of safety. I don’t think she really believed me and since then she seems intent on improving her already dead shot hand gun skills by honing them more often at the firing range. The goggles were cumbersome and didn’t adapt very well to today’s modern helmet, so they became another useless accessory and now hang on an old racing trophy here at my desk, gathering dust. But my problems riding in the rain were eventually solved with a three dollar plastic shield. Works like a charm and meets the high standards for motorcycle accessories that I always demand.