|My Harley After 600 Mile Ride
Since two of the guys had service appointments we rode up taking the fast route up Highway 281/37/&10. I used a two piece Tour Master rain gear which is about eight years old and discovered on our arrival in Boerne that the pant's inner lining was beginning to flake off so I was wet from my knees to my ankles, not a good thing in cool weather. I ended up buying new rain gear from BMW and I'll report on that in another posting.
Coming back down to the Rio Grande Valley we had more time and chose to travel via Highway 16, running from San Antonio through Jourdanton, Freer, Hebbronville and San Isidro. Traffic on this once peaceful route is now congested with oil rigs working on the new oil fracking business. As we pulled into Jourdanton's only gas stop and convenience store we entered a crazy hectic scene of trucks and pickups of mostly roughnecks and a few hunters. Those Fracking boys have literally swarmed all over South and Southwest Texas and taken hold of every gas stop, motel, and restaurant. The parking lot in Jourdanton's gas station was filled with mud from both the vehicles and the worker's boots. A temporary boot cleaning station was setup in front of the store's entrance to minimize the amount of mud workers tracked inside. The scene was surreal and our fellow rider Marcos Gutierrez said, this is how it must have looked like during the Gold Rush Days. What a fitting analogy. This fracking business is really keeping our Texas economy going, but it sure lessens some of the beauty of our rides. Now its not uncommon to see endless lines of trucks, pipelines hugging the highways and oil rig patches where once was bluebonnets. And that's not to mention the amount of debris on the road ranging from simple trash to oil pipelines, that makes for a risky ride. The price of progress!
As you can see from the photo, it's not too smart to get too close to one of those big rigs. Most of those rigs are coming onto the highway from dirt roads so their tires are loaded with mud and even if you give them a wide berth as you're passing them you'll get some mud. My bike ended up about as dirty as its ever been.
In San Isidro we saw a guy win $10,000 on a scratch-off card! Marco promptly bought a scratch-off card and asked the winner to touch his card. No Luck! I also had the misfortune of hitting a Road-Runner as it flew in front me. I was doing 78mph when it collided with me. The feathers in the above picture show them as they were stuck to the head light trim. It was a big bird and I was surprised to see it flying instead of running as they usually do. So on this short ride I had Javelina and Road-Runner either on me or the bike.
On the return ride it only rained for about 50 miles or less and my new rain gear worked perfectly. The clouds and rain were blown away by a stiff northern that reportedly had gusts up to 56mph at times. The wind was hitting us diagonally between our backs and right side as we headed South.
Here's my tips on riding in the rain:
1. If it's a heavy rain use your rain gear's head hood if you've got one. It'll keep rain from running down your helmet and onto your back.
2. Close your helmet vents.
3. Wear gloves that allow you to wipe your face shield like the BMW Motorrad All Season gloves that are water proof and also have a handy squeegee on the left hand's forefinger. It's a life saver.
4. Spray your inside face shield with some type of anti-fog agent if it's wet and cold or use the double layer shield that's made to avoid face shield fogging.
5. Take enough time to make sure your rain jacket is zipped up all the way, collar is fully closed as well as sleeve openings.
6. Close rain pants well at waist and especially on the lower leg openings.
7. Wear water proof boots. I normally use Red Wings, but when it's raining I'll use my Sidi Boots that always keep out moisture. Nothing worse than riding with wet feet.
8. Take time to check your mobility ranges. If it's cold and your layered up with shirts and jackets underneath your rain gear you may have trouble moving and turning your head as you normally do so check out how much limitations you have with everything on.
9. Careful on the road. Trust your tires if they're in good condition. A tire in the rain will still have about 80% of its normal grip so don't be afraid to lean into your turns just don't overdo it. I've seen guys taking curves in the rain and drifting into the other lane because they're trying to stay upright instead of taking the turn with a normal lean angle.
10. Watch that middle of the lane section. It can be the last part of the highway to get oil and mud completely washed off so I usually avoid that part of the lane and stick to the well marked auto tire trails.
11. Watch those big rigs when you're passing them. They can really shower you with dirty rain water, sometimes in an instant and making your vision almost zero. I'll usually speed up when passing a big rig just to be safe.
12. Keep yourself well spaced between vehicles and other fellow riders so you've increased your margin of error.
13. Try to minimize the amount of time you ride in the rain after sunset.
14. Enjoy the ride, don't let a little rain spoil your plans. We only stop if its raining so hard that you can't see, but then everyone is usually pulling over.
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