April Showers Bring May…. Showers

Woody and Buzz not digging the obstructed view

Rain can be inspirational. It is life giving and it calms on those days when you have just had enough. You stare out the window and watch the rain as it gently falls. Each drop exploding like a water balloon on every surface it comes in contact with, spreading its moisture on everything around it. I have written many songs during rain storms, it moves me in that respect. But in other forms, it is a nuisance.

I do not intentionally ride in the rain. If it is going to rain, I don’t go out. If I’m out and it starts to rain, oh well, I suck it up and ride, though I may shorten my trip. We as motorcycle riders and cyclists live a life of percentages. Specifically, what is the percentage of the chance of rain. The higher the percentage, the less likely we venture out. But what’s the cut-off point?

0% – Obviously, we’re riding.

10% – We’re still riding

20% – We’re still riding but we’re checking the radar and which way it’s moving.

30% – Same as 20% but we’re watching the sky more and making changes to our route depending upon where the darker clouds are.

40% – We look at the radar A LOT and try to plan a ride around the darker clouds and but it’s usually a coin flip if we go out.

50% – Huge gray/grey area here. Checking the radar, which way is it moving, how fast is it moving, is the ground already wet?

60% – Not likely riding but A) is it raining now? B) is the ground wet? C) when does that 60% happen? Oh, not doing that 60% until later today, hit the road early.

70% – Not likely, but we adopt the 60% stance.

80% – Not likely. But only if I have to.

90% – Uh, no. But only if I have to.

100% – Hell no. But if I have to, yes.

Two years ago, I was on my way back to New Jersey from the Florida Keys. The night before departure I was checking the forecast up and down the Florida coast up to Jacksonville. 40% chance of rain it said in the Miami area and the hourly had it peaking around noon. Okay…. I can deal with that. The radar showed some icky stuff that could potentially hit that area but nothing I couldn’t deal with. So, at 9 a.m. I shoved off and headed North on that beautiful, warm and sunny Islamorada morning. I stopped for gas as I got into Key Largo and then continued on. I hit some road construction as I got to the Florida Turnpike and as a result, I missed the ramp I was supposed to take and ended up heading east towards Miami. I stopped and checked the map and saw that it would take me to the beginning of I-95, which is the road I would have ended up on anyway, only north of Ft. Lauderdale. The problem with this is that I was now heading toward the rain as opposed to flanking it like I had wanted to do. Remember that 40% chance of rain around noon I mentioned? Well, within 15 minutes of being on that wrong highway headed east, that 40% turned to 90% and as I entered I-95 north the sky opened up. Biblical proportions opened up. I pulled to the side of the road and put on my rain suit, remounted the bike and continued.

The rain finally stopped a couple hours later and as I stopped for fuel I took off the rain suit, shook out the water and resumed my ride. By the time I reached Daytona, the sun was out and it was in the low 80’s and I dried out.

So this was one of those cases where regardless of the chance of rain, I had to ride. Now I am told that in Florida it rains nearly every day somewhere, even if for only 10 minutes, but that is the nature of living on a sand bar that sticks out into the ocean. But it’s different here in New Jersey. In Florida they say “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and something else will come along”. In New Jersey they say “If you don’t like the weather, too f**King bad, move”.

So until my wife and I pack up and move to parts south to a more temperate and predictable climate, I will continue to endure the uncertainty of the weather patterns of New Jersey and play Russian roulette with the percentages.

Ride safe kids.

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