From summer 2014:
Part A – I like riding in the rain.
Rain finds the tops of thighs first; it finds the fronts of rounded knees.
Or at least, when I ride in rain, that’s where it first finds me. And as the denim, if you’re wearing it, becomes saturated, water pools at the crest of kneecaps and then soaks downward into boots, following the lines of shin bones.
I was warned that the road or the bike or both might turn against me in the rain – that I might find the streets a contrived slickness; that my tires might fail me in the wet. I have found, however, so far, that this is not true. The bike stayed securely underneath me, offering the same handling in braking and turning that it might otherwise,
This alone is a sensation I would probably never otherwise feel.
This is only the start of sensations that rain-riding brings.
In terms of a visor, you’ve got two options: either the pellets of rain hitting your face, or a wet windshield but no windshield wipers. Broken visibility either way.
But the whole thing has a sort of peacefulness to it; a serene sensuality.
Part B – I might like riding in the rain, but my bike does not.
Here is the first of many times I rode home in the rain:
He started up just fine and seemed to be running, but at one of our first stop lights, he died right there in my hands. (I watched it happen, too; could feel as the imminent moment approached beneath me, glanced down, saw it all unfold, and let him go.)
No matter. Set some choke, pressed play, and he started right back up. But the whole way home, we played The RPM Game. You probably know it. It goes mostly like him saying:
“I‘m gonna idle somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 RPMs at stop lights, and when I say ‘between 2,000 and 4,000’ I mean mostly everywhere all at once. Imma keep you on your toes. K, girl?”
“Alrighty, bike. Whatever you need.”
But then: “Oh, we’re almost ready to go? I‘m at 4,000!!! Oh, but you gave me some good throttle and barely eased off the clutch? Lolz I‘m at <1,000 andithinkimightdie! …jk here we go!”
The whole way home.
It occurred to me, briefly, that this was sort of like yet another “can’t possibly” in my day. It could’ve been. But it wasn’t. It didn’t really feel that way.
Because (and here’s the long “KG” bit; brace yourself):
- First of all, let’s benefit of the doubt him here: our short history would suggest user error. He’s ridden in the rain more than I have, I‘m sure, and most of “our” mistakes together so far have been mine. This probably was too. That aside…
- I‘m not entirely sure “riding in the rain” was ever part of the deal – e.g., I don’t think that was articulated as a requirement – merely a nice to have – and I‘m willing to be fair about that; this is a quirk if anything. Not a deal breaker. Especially given that…
- He obviously DOES ride in the rain – most certainly got me home, and…
- Did so without endangering me. Tires were grippy and he stayed underneath me while braking and turning. All was on the up and up, safety-wise; he takes good care of me in general, and this, I found, was no exception. And with the basics covered…
- I appreciate that success here has to be approached with more attention, and even if part of that is learning to play with choke, it still falls within the realm of “CAN possibly.” Just a matter of user learning curve (see point #1.) And I‘m happy to do so, because, perhaps most importantly…
- Overall, the whole thing – including this ride, inthedamnrain – still brings me such stupid bliss that, yeah, he can have this too. You need a little bit more love when it weathers? Done.
2016 UPDATE: it does have a bit to do with the model. The air filter is located towards the front under my seat, meaning rain runs down the tank and pools there and the bike “can’t breathe.” Also, it’s carbureted rather than fuel injected.