How many times have you climbed out of bed with every intention of going for a ride on the bike, only to be put off by wet stuff falling from the sky? If that’s you, you don’t need to worry; you’re not alone. The thought of getting your bike dirty and not being able to use all of its power when your dragging your knee along the floor is a little bit of a buzz-kill, I know. That’s not to mention getting soaked to the skin. But riding in the wet isn’t all bad. The roads might be wet but there’s still plenty of joy to be had, if you know where to find it…
First of all, if you’re going out in the rain, you’ve got to get dressed properly. Adventure spec riding kit will keep you warm and fairly dry, and if you chuck a johnny-suit over the top you’ll be laughing, whatever the weather. I know it can get a bit expensive, having different outfits for every eventuality, but if you don’t want to let a bit of rain stop you riding your bike, it’s got to be done. Whilst we’re talking about kit, try and get hold of a Pinlock visor insert (or similar). On a cold damp day, your warm breath is going to fog the inside of your visor up double quick unless you’re all Pinlock’ed up.
And now you’ve made sure your warm and dry it’s just like any other ride. Except it’s a bit less grippy. But riding in the wet definitely makes you a better rider, and I’ll fight anyone that disagrees. That’s because as soon as the grip disappears, you’ve got to improve the way you ride just to stay on your bike. Every single input, whether it’s braking, turning or opening the throttle, needs to be as smooth as possible, to prevent succumbing to the conditions. You need to concentrate a hundred times more when the road is wet, not only to keep everything smooth, but to eyeball every inch of tarmac to make sure your tyres are taking the optimum line through it. If you can take that smoothness and that concentration to your dry weather riding, there isn’t a shred of doubt that it will make you a better rider. Not only will you be faster, you’ll be safer too, whether you’re riding in the wet or the dry. How’s that for a chicken dinner?
And if nothing else, it might give you a chance to really put those fancy rider safety aids to the test, if you’ve got any. During a dry ride on a summers day, you’re not likely to be bothering the traction control or the ABS too much. It almost seems like a waste of time having them. Not so in the wet. You don’t need to try very hard to get your money’s worth out of the systems when it’s cold and soggy out. And anyway, plenty of modern bikes have even got a ‘wet’ mode. They’ve been designed to go out in the rain!
The only real problem with going out in the rain, is that you tend to get your bike caked up with all sorts of shite. And it does get everywhere. That just means you have to clean it, which is actually a blessing in disguise. It might seem like a pain in the arse at the time, but that proper ‘deep-clean’ that you give you’re bike after a few miles in shitty weather, will probably be one of the best cleans you ever give it. Until next time you take it out on a crap day, that is. What I’m trying to say is that when you clean something that’s not dirty, most people tend to do a half arsed job. Because that’s all it needs. When it needs a proper wash, that’s what it gets (or that’s what it should get). And a proper wash from time to time definitely doesn’t hurt.
And if nothing else, it gets you out the house. Over the past year, we’ve all spent far too long in the house. It’s not good for you. So next time you open the curtains and it’s not cracking flags, don’t be disheartened. Put your big boy pants on, turn your TC up a couple of clicks (if you’ve got it), and go and enjoy yourself.