Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rain

So, in my Sunday Blog I kind of hinted that I enjoy riding in the rain - am I weird or what?

The Milford Road - fabulous wet or dry
I'm not that keen on setting out in the rain but once I'm rolling I do tend to enjoy myself a lot.  As long as I'm dry and not too cold then I just get amongst it and enjoy the ride.  But why?

Ok, I love riding full stop but there seems to be a lot of people that love riding but aren't that keen on the wet stuff.  I wondering if it's the same sick mentality that makes me enjoy riding the DL on gravel or take part in endurance rides.  It's not that it's a fascination with dangerous activity - I've never parachuted or bungee jumped and don't feel the need to.  I have a feeling that I enjoy the focus and concentration that is demanded by riding under more trying conditions.

Riding in the rain is really not that much different from riding in the dry - in reality the same hazards exist: road surfaces can be dangerous and grip variable whether wet or dry and other vehicles, pedestrians and animals are still a danger but obviously water on the road does decrease grip.

All it takes is a good bike with good tyres and a sensible rider (wearing good gear) who understands how to ride to the conditions.  Visibility is probably one of the biggest hazards that is more of an issue in foul weather and while you can treat your visor for fogging and to repel water you're still not going to have the same visibility on a clear, dry day.

My riding technique in the wet is also pretty similar to that in the dry.  I try to be as smooth as possible, stay off the brakes and pick my line and corner speeds well before the corner.  The only thing is that I probably focus on this a lot more than in the dry - I'm really interested in what the road surface looks like up ahead and I'm getting my braking and gear selection done a bit earlier and I don't push things with high corner speeds or huge lean angles.  I'm not slow but I'm slower and more cautious, making sure that I'm keeping plenty of time and distance up my sleeve in case I have to react to a new hazard or changing circumstances.

So yes, I think it is the increased focus and concentrating on "better" riding techniques which I enjoy.  After all, all riders like nailing a corner just right at the right speed, in the right gear in the dry and it sure is nice to do the same in the wet and not end up getting yourself in trouble.  Does riding in the rain help you become a better rider?  Who else like riding in the rain or am I truly nutso?

Oh BTW, I forgot to mention the other day but when the GoPro snapped the picture of the rainbow below I had Lou Reed singing in my ears - something about a Perfect Day...not sure he was 100% right but he wasn't far off.

That rainbow
I hope you've enjoyed the ravings of a mad as a snake, rain seeking (well, maybe not quite), lunatic biker!

14 comments:

  1. Love the rainbow!

    If it isn't cold, the rain isn't so bad. Like you - willfully setting off into it can be hard, but if you're in it might as well make the best of it.

    Milford road looks amazing <3

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    1. Milford Road is one of my favourite roads in the country and takes you down into the spectacular Milford Sound: http://banditrider.weebly.com/milford-sound.html

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  2. Good post. I also don't mind riding in the rain. Like you I don't necessarily want to start out in it if I don't have to, but enjoy it when I am in it. The key is BEING DRY. If you arent dry you aren't going to be comfortable. My husband gets questioned when he rides to work in the rain. People just don't understand that if you aren't actively getting wet, it really isn't a problem.

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    1. I've had my bike license for a longer than my car one so I've done plenty of commuting in all weather. It was worse when I was a poor student and couldn't afford good gear...

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  3. If you are a lunatic that means we are all crazy......

    I am not really keen on setting out in the rain but after getting caught in a few gully washers over long distances I don't mind riding in it. I just look at the sky and laugh and yell "what, you can't rain any harder?" or "is that the best you can do?" Maybe a fist shake thrown in if the weather is really bad.

    But like you said, it helps to have good gear. If my hands get wet through my gloves I'm toast.

    The rainbow pic is an awesome picture. I like that it can be seen all the way through the windscreen.

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    1. I never ask your question - I've been in some shockers of storms. Rain is fine until it gets horizontal and you're getting blown around for good measure!

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  4. Great post Andrew, I am also not to bothered when it comes to riding in the rain. On my way back from South Island, I had pretty heavy rain from the ferry to Feilding..but still really enjoyed the ride. I was warm, relaxed, but focused.

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    1. Good gear is worth it's weight in gold - or so you hope when buying it...

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  5. I guess one get used to the rain at the Pacific We(s)t Coast. Usually the vacation/holiday crowds (four or twowheeled) are fewer, and traffic easier in the rain. More road for me!

    As long as the water is not dripping down my neck I'm good ;-)

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    1. Yeah down the neck and in another place is no good...

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  6. Couldn't agree more with all your sentiments Andrew. As you say, it's just about adjusting to the conditions and slowly dialling in. I think the one thing which taskes away the enjoyment is not having prober, effective rain gear. There's nothing quite like feeling that first little trickle or damp spot for ruining the concentration :-)

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    1. Love my Alpinstars stuff! Much better than what I had only a few years ago...

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  7. Great write about riding in the rain. The wet really does present us with a new twist to riding gravel roads. We have done a few gravel road rides in wet conditions and many roads turn to mud when the rain washes it all away. The visor can present new problems also and can be quite tough going when you don't have the same visibility. Did I mention needing to wear glasses under the visor??? That can mean a whole new set of problems. In the end I just take the glasses off. But, does it stop us from it alll??? No we are back out there again and into it again. Winter is upon us and I suppose we will now have to get used to a change in our riding styles.

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  8. Great post about riding in the rain. I feel the same way you do. The rain does present unique challenges and keeps rider skill up. From my perspective and as you indicate, it's not the "danger element" that is attractive, it's the skills and mental alertness required that is so attractive.

    Off road, water be it in the form of rain or water crossings, mud etc. the mental challenge is still the same but the technique required perhaps a bit more practiced. Nonetheless, riding in the wet is still a little adventure in itself.

    Great post! Thanks!

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