Posted by David Morris on Friday, March 8, 2019 Under: Guest Motorcycle Articles
Dull grey skies today, a steady heavy rain, poor visibility. An opportunity to impress the crowd with a textbook demonstration of wet weather riding skills.
Starting with hardware. Motorcycle in good condition, especially tyres, the grooves good and deep to channel away water, no letting them wear flat with constant upright motorway riding, no messing about trying to extend their life because they look okayish. A helmet that won't mist up. Clothes waterproof and breathable, they're four years old now, never had any maintenance, I can ride through a downpour all day and not have a speck of moisture on me, miracle of modern fabrics. No trivial matter, comfort, a safety issue, you can tough stuff out for a while but it wears you down, you need your attention on staying alive not whether your feet are cold. Hi viz belts and bands, you can't tell how many times you stay alive because some unnoticed driver sees you and doesn't mow you down, but over time it'll be quite a few.
Fifty percent increase in the safety bubble in front. Partly to stay out of the spray. Partly because braking distances are longer. Partly because if there's trouble, you don't brake, you accelerate. Braking puts the weight on the unstable front wheel, accelerating puts it on the stable back wheel. So you need space to accelerate into. Also, ride in a lower gear, use it to slow down without braking or accelerate without delaying.
Be real careful changing lanes, cars often leave their headlights off and they're damn near invisible. Otherwise don't worry about what's behind you, let the hi viz stuff protect you there, concentrate on the trouble up front.
Ten mph slower than normal. That's the deal. If you abrogate speeding limits to your own judgement, your position is a lot more compelling if you sometimes go slower, not always faster.
The game is, every time you hold back, you get a gold star. Here's a gap I'd normally take, not today, one gold star. That doesn't mean you have to be cowed and subdued, in fact often in the rain there's an even greater need to filter past stuck traffic, just do it with less relish. Then collect the gold stars. But any rashness or impetuosity, all gold stars cancelled, start again.