Being exposed to the elements is one of the many things that makes riding a motorcycle so exhilarating and enjoyable. When the weather turns bad, however, it can create its share of challenges. It’s exactly why some riders I know never stray too far from home and only ride on nice days. Considering how inaccurate the weather predictions have been this summer, I didn’t give the rain forecast much thought when I was packing for a recent trip to Ontario’s Highlands. I haphazardly threw together some pieces of rain gear more out of superstition than anything else. Times when I’ve gone overboard by preparing for the worst with bulky, insulated gear, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This ride was different.
The local tourism board invited a group of media and influencers to the Ottawa Valley to experience the wide array of motorcycle-friendly roads throughout the area. We spent three glorious days riding smooth, winding roads amid beautiful scenery under sunny skies. Unfortunately, the ride home couldn’t have been more different.
As the week progressed, this “chance of rain” in the distance became an imminent “Rainfall Warning” with a high chance of flooding in the very areas we’d be passing through with temperatures hovering around the low double digits. Four of us decided to leave at first light as that was when the rain would supposedly be at its lightest. This did not end up being the case. With a long, challenging ride ahead, sleep was elusive. After downing a few cups of hot, black coffee and applying what I hoped would be suitable protection from the onslaught of rain, we set off for our 300 km ride in a steady downpour.
Traction and visibility were both heavily compromised. The Street Glide’s traction control saved my bacon more than once when I started to lose the back end. One rider dropped his loaded-up Road Glide which took three of us to prop back up. Thankfully only his pride was injured and nothing else. The rain streaming across our fogged-up visors, transport trucks created massive walls of spray as they passed. The rain steadily increased as we rode, and the temperature dipped. It was no match for our so-called waterproof gear. After about an hour and a half, we pulled into a coffee shop cold and wet. There’s a saying that goes along the lines of, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Clearly my riding attire is in need of an upgrade.
Ordering the largest hot drinks they had, we took turns wringing out our gear and holding it under the hand dryer in the restroom before setting off into the deluge once again. Thankfully, the temperature climbed just enough to make the ride bearable as we approached the city, but the rain did not relent. If anything, it only got harder. Any longer and I think I would have been forced to stop at a hotel for the day.
Arriving home after an eight-hour ride exhausted and weathered (literally and figuratively), I peeled off my soaking wet gear and stood in the shower until I drained my hot water tank. I’m flattered that my fellow riders trusted me to lead the group safely and I’m thankful it is over. The Weather Network reported that an entire month worth of rain fell in a single day. My dripping gear and waterlogged fingers can attest to that. Would I want to do it again? No. But, am I glad that we did it? Yes. We made it through a challenging experience together and we’re all better for it. Now to update that rain gear…