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Cold, Wet and Miserable

We were planning our annual trip to Sturgis, but work required me to be in Denver the Friday and Saturday before the rally. So we rode to Denver and I met my obligations. It was raining Saturday afternoon when we left for the Black Hills and a week of fun and relaxation. We were wearing fairly decent raingear as we headed north towards South Dakota (North to South Dakota?)

The rain was just heavy enough to find those places it could seep inside and we soon began to feel the damp spots forming. We had also forgotten why Denver was called the Mile-High City. As the sun began to drop in the sky, we were reminded that we had packed for the heat of the rally not for the coolness of the mountains. It wasn't long before the bike began to vibrate and I couldn't tell if the primary source was the front seat or the rear.

I now know where every coffee serving gas station is located between Denver and Cheyenne. We abandoned our plans to spend the night in our rally hotel and holed up in Cheyenne for the night. The heater in our room was turned on its highest setting and draped with our wet clothing. After a few hours in a hot shower (maybe it was only minutes) we started to thaw out. By morning all was dry and warm and the rest of the trip uneventful.

Haven't we all had experiences like this where we got caught by the weather and ended up cold, wet and miserable? What are the effects and what is our response to this situation? When we're soaked and the evaporative cooling of the wind on our wet bodies just makes us feel even more frozen, what are we normally thinking about?

Usually we're focused on our dismal condition and trying to figure out what we're going to do about it. Unfortunately that means we're not paying attention to our riding making a dangerous situation even worse. With the rain obscuring everyone's visibility and the reduced traction available on the wet roads, we really need to be paying attention to the hazards we face as we send a spray of water on other windshields.

But it's hard to concentrate when our teeth are chattering and our fingers are freezing tightly around the grips. Our shoulders tense up as we recognize the increased risk the rain is creating, but our mind keeps reminding us how wretched our body feels. So our answer is the only logical thing we can think of to do. Let's roll on the throttle to get out of this as soon as we can.

So now we've increased our speed while riding with reduced traction and a distracted mind that isn't allowing us to focus on what's happening around us, except for the rain and cold. This seems like a formula for disaster that could result in ending our trip earlier than we expected in a less than satisfying manner.

Riding when we're wet, cold and miserable can lead to unpleasant outcomes. Good gear isn't always cheap, but it's worth every cent we invest if it can help keep our excursions trouble free and enjoyable.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!