Weekly Update
Greetings Riders,
Well, the weather is still a little cool for rides out of the valley area, but has been great for some local excursions to get out and enjoy the sunshine and mild temperatures. A couple of good ideas for that would be a ride out to Bartlett Lake or to one of my favorite routes in the valley, the route past Saguaro Lake and then on to Tortilla Flat. It doesn't get much better than that for a nice Sunday afternoon ride.
Like most of you that are avid riders, I tend to think back on places that I have been and experiences that I have had on when riding. And when you get together with your group of riding pals the topic of conversation will usually turn to sharing an anecdote of an uncomfortable situation. You might hear of flat tires, running out of gas, etc. But one story that I think we all have is the day that we got caught in the rain.
When do you put on Rain Gear?
Yep, if you ride far enough and long enough, you are going to be caught in a rain storm at some point on your motorcycle. While you can plan around rain on short day trips from home, when you are out on a 10 day trip and you are going from point A to point B that day, it is pretty hard to avoid. As a result, I have heard a lot of rain stories and have a few myself. I will share a few of my observations and then lay down on the couch and share a few of my rain soaked philosophy's.
From what I can tell, there are 3 types of riders and how they deal with the prospects of rain.
1. The rider that will spot a lone cloud floating across the sky 40 miles away that will stop and put his rain gear on.
2. The rider that will see dark clouds and rain coming down 4 miles ahead that will surmise that there is the likelihood of getting wet soon and will pull over and put his rain gear on.
3. And then. . . There is the guy that will see dark black clouds a mile away, smell the rain, see it coming down ahead, notice cars coming toward him with their wipers going, see wet pavement and sprinkles on his windshield that will still figure a way to rationalize how it will only last for a few minutes and he will somehow be able to ride through it and not get wet. (You know who you are)
Unfortunately, I tend to fall into the ill-advised #3 slot when it comes to putting on rain gear. I told you there could be a Dr. Phil moment, so here goes. As most of you know by now, I love to ride. Especially out on the open road going from one destination to the next. My idea of a great day is to eat a Big Breakfast from McDonalds and not eat again till that evening. Once I get rolling, anything that is going to slow me down is an obstacle to my goal of adding more miles. You see, in my world, stopping for gas, bathroom breaks and eating are a huge waste of time and generally just a good way to burn daylight. Putting on rain gear is also a great way to waste time. So for me, the prospects of pulling over and spending 15 minutes wrestling with rain gear is a huge risk of wasting time. What if I go to all that trouble and IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY RAIN! I've wasted precious riding time.
But there are those times that it does. Have you ever tried to put on rain gear quickly? It sometimes seems to be the clothing version of a Rubik's Cube. There are so many zippers, Velcro, buttons and snaps on these things, it takes an engineering degree just to get them apart, much less apply them to your body and keep water out. This part really frustrates me. See if you can relate to this story.
Ok, Mrs. C. and I were on a trip last Summer and I was somehow caught in a weak moment and slipped into the #2 category above. I actually stopped BEFORE it started raining. Well, it would be more like number 2.75 as the rain was more like 400 yards away instead of 4 miles. Anyway, we know the rain is emanate and we are on a short time frame to get our gear on. So I unpack my rain gear, that is tightly compressed in the tiny little bag, tear away the Velcro on the legs of the pants to get the zipper far enough up to get my size 13 boot through the opening. I bring back both zippers, put the pants down so I can put my legs through the holes to find that the Velcro has come back across and stuck the pant legs together again, not allowing my boot to go through, leaving it stuck half way in the leg. I can't push it through or pull it out. 
Now I am on the side of the road hopping in circles on one leg because I don't want to step on my rain gear and get it dirty from the asphalt. I finally hop over and grab hold of the bike to balance myself and peel back the Velcro from the leg. While I was doing that the other leg had found a nice resting spot on the exhaust pipe, melting a nice big hole in it. So I grab that one off the pipe, and start to put my foot through the leg when a big clap of thunder erupted and the rain started coming down. Now I have the pressure of getting my pants zipped up, Velcro in place while getting pelted with rain. 
I quickly grabbed my rain jacket to keep from getting any more wet and found that to store it properly, I had zipped it up and snapped all the buttons. Now I am getting wetter by the second as I try to deconstruct my jacket to put it on. While being sufficiently distracted with my rain suit erector set, I had neglected to close the saddle bags and found that the cloud burst that had cut loose moments before and had sufficiently drenched me was now filling up my bags. So I quickly grabbed my rain boots and closed the lids, remembering why I don't like to stop to put on rain gear. 
Now comes the puzzle of putting on my boot covers. Living in Arizona, the land of 4 inches of rain a year, we just don't get a lot of practice putting on our rain gear. So there are some questions. Is there a right foot and a left foot? There are no labels. Does the Velcro go to the outside of your leg or the inside? Does your rain suit leg go over or under? And oh ya, the monsoon is now in full force while I am trying to figure out the protocol for the boot installation. I get the boot covers on, reposition my rain gear leg over the top, put my helmet on and now ready to roll.
The good news is, after the WWF match with "Hulk Rain Gear" I am back on the road and sufficiently wet under my rain suit, but not taking on any more water, except for the burned hole in my leg. One thing about rain suits are that they are so water tight that they don't breathe very well. They are actually a good wind breaker to keep you warm. Now my body temp is heating up, the moisture can't escape, and I feel like a rolling sauna inside my rain suit. But that's ok, I'm still drier that if I didn't have it on and am now looking pretty smart for stopping when I did. Or was I?
We had traveled about 10 miles down the road, the rain stopped as fast as it started and the sun was starting to shine hot and bright. Now the sauna inside my rain gear was on high and I couldn't wait to get it off. It looks like we might have gone through the rain and there was not much of a threat ahead. Now comes the debate. Do you error on the side of caution leave the rain gear on and look a little funny riding in bright sunshine with rain gear in case that one cloud 30 miles down the road has rain? (See Rider #1) Or do we pull over, take it all off, fold it up, smash it down and try and force it back into the undersized micro bag that it came in knowing that there is a slight chance that we could need it again? That is the big decision knowing that it will be another 15 plus minutes just to do that.
I'm guessing the rain suit debate will continue as long as we have motorcycle riding and rain. I'm sure you have had the same discussions on the side of the road with your riding group. Some will error on the side of no chance of getting wet and some will endure a few rain drops to keep from spending 30 minutes of your riding day putting on and taking off rain gear. I tend to take on a little water to keep from going through the dreaded rain suit exercise, but that theory caught us good in Wyoming last year. We got stuck in the scenario of just a little rain here and there to the point that you were already too wet to put your gear on, so you just gut it out for the next 30 miles thinking you can't get any wetter. Take it from me, you can. We were completely soaked. I even poured water out of my boots after that one. Mrs. C. informed me that we won't be doing that again. I tend to agree.
As you read this, I'm sure you have conjured up a few of your own rain stories from the past. Do you invest the time and effort to put it on, or not? It is a tricky thing trying to out-smart the weather. I struggle with it every time, but am striving for position #2 in my examples above. The problem still remains, I just don't like to stop once I am rolling down the highway.
As the old saying goes, the best view of a thunder storm is in your rear view mirror.

This Week
Saturday, January 16th
Stand Up and Stand Proud 1st Annual Benefit Ride. Sponsored by Arizona Standdown, Helping Homeless Veterans. Our mission is to provide sweat suits, sweatpants, and sweatshirts for homeless veterans as they attend 2010 Arizona Stand Down. Enjoy free coffee and doughnuts January 16th as we gather to Stand Up and Stand Proud for our veterans who need us now. Benefit ride begins with a $10 registration at 8:30am at Dunkin Donuts located at 6606 E. McKellips Rd. in Mesa, followed by a ride ending at Kmart on 1445 S. Power Rd. at 10:30am where we will select the products and sizes of clothing. More information: Tom Steinhagen at 480-832-2466.
Post your ride photos on the front page of the Facebook
Take a look at all the new photos posted on the wall. I invite you to post a picture of yourself by a sign or landmark from a trip you have taken, or a picture of you on your motorcycle. Or just share your favorite ride with 1400 other motorcycle enthusiasts. 
I am inviting you to 1550 other riders and "Become A Fan" on the Facebook page. Click Here to Become a Fan and bookmark this page. If you are not on Facebook, you can still view the page, but you will not be able to post. There will be a link there for you to sign up for Facebook if you are inclined.
Bud commercials are always some of the most creative. Here are 3 that are pretty funny. Click Here to View.
How would you like to have been on this British Aerospace 146 for a landing at London City Airport. Looked like a Wild Ride into this short field in the wind. Click Here to View
Video of the Week
This is funny. It is supposedly a woman that is cooking crabs for the first time. Watch the dog trying to figure it all out. Click Here to View. Click on the Video of the Week graphic on the page.
Until Next Week,
Blessings and Safe Riding To All,
Barry Caraway
"The Road Is Yours - Take The Ride"

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