Snaggy gives us the good oil on staying alive in the wet…
Wet riding. Who really likes it? Not me.
I had cause for a big wet ride the other weekend. It was teeming when I left the house and was still coming down at the same rate when I slumped from the bike in a gelatinous mess 716km later. Yes, you watch the odo on a ride like that.
It also took in the Alpine Way from Khancoban-ish to past Jindabyne-exacto. That’s a twisty bit of road. 109km of it. A bit of road to which you look forward, the type of road that every motorcyclist wants. But not in the sort of rain of that day.
Yes, ‘the sky was angry that day, my friends’ as George Costanza would put it.
This was the sort of rain you can’t see through, the sort of rain that exposes the ‘Waterproof’, ‘Gore-Tex’, ‘Thinsulate’ and 14 other branded tags that hang proudly from a new jacket or gloves for the rat bastard liars they are.
The sort of rain that stops you questioning why you do this, because half way you realise there cannot possibly be a salient answer to that question. Other than you are an idiot.
I weighed 193kg in my gear when I arrived, it took 27 minutes to get my gloves off and 27 hours for the little radiator in my tin-box cabin to sauna my gear stiffer than Ron Jeremy. Yes, you do a bit of math after a ride like that.
You know the fear we feel when on a road of the ilk of The Alpine Way when there are rivers across the road in which you could fire up an Evinrude, when you arrive at the next 25km/h advisory sign a little quick, feel for the brake, and apply it with the same sort of tactile-terror you would employ when tapping Chopper Read on the shoulder to ask for directions to the cell block toilets?
Then, having somehow wobbled the screaming death machine through that life-changing moment, applying gas with absolutely no idea how much grip there’s going to be? Can’t see, can’t feel your extremities? Yeah, it was like that.
All this got me to thinking…
The simple fact is, there is a whole bunch of grip there and – I know the gods will spank me for this – I’ve never crashed in the rain. I’ve tossed a few bikes into the bush in my time, bunged a couple of testers over ripple strips on racetracks, toppled over in more than a few embarrassing tiptoe service station silly-prangs, but never hit the road in the wet. And I can’t think of a mate who has either.
Now, if you apply statistics to all this, surely you arrive at the conclusion that riding in the wet brings the sort of concentrated ride-savvy that makes it actually safer than in the dry. Stop shaking your head, it’s there. You see, you do statistics on a ride like that.
Think about it. When did you spear off last because of a wet road? Ask your mates.
That weekend got better. Until the Sunday, when, after peering outta the condensation filled steambox that was my cabin, I noted rain. The sort of rain that… You get it. All 716km of it.
In gear that had taken on the properties of a box that a refrigerator comes in.
And this proved my point once again. I got home. See?
Yes, you do delirium on a ride like that. Clearly.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 26 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.