Riding in the Rain

Decent rain gear can make for a much better ride.

Ride long enough and you’ll get stuck in the rain. Some guys seem to think it’s the end of the world. Others don’t seem to care at all. I’m probably in the middle somewhere. If it’s not cold and I’m not going to work, it’s not a big deal. Rain gear makes it bearable, but shopping for it can be exhausting. What is best? What can I afford? What will work? All questions with different answers for each of us.

A friend of mine, we’ll call him Ron, was fairly new to riding and is known for having a strong distaste for spending money. A group of us used to go on a motorcycle trip to the Great Lakes near the end of every summer. First couple of trips we did were in good weather, so no issues. Then it happened. We were on our way home and it started to rain. We quickly pull over and get on the wet gear –except Ron! He refused to spend the money to get some, so he had none. It wasn’t raining hard, but after a couple of hours riding in it, he was soaked and miserable. He vowed at the end of the trip to get some rain gear and we were all willing to help, offering advice and sharing what worked for us.

No one likes wasting money, so it’s important to do some research and get something that will meet your needs without breaking the bank. Get what works well at a good price and you’ll be happy. Overpay and you may be happy with your gear, but you won’t enjoy the fact that you spent too much. Get something that doesn’t work and you won’t be happy, regardless of how much (or how little) it cost. Everyone in the group gave him suggestions and told him what worked for them. One guy had a fancy one-piece Aerostich riding suit that was more than $1200. Another had a two-piece First Gear Kilimanjaro suit that was just north of $500 at the time. Other guys had gear that was useable and cost around $100.

“How much?” Ron scoffed. “There’s no way I’m spending anywhere near that much!”

His solution? A $5 rain suit from Walmart!

I remember when he showed up at work, prancing around like a proud toddler who found a stash of cookies in the cabinet, telling us how he found a better solution. “Ha, there’s no way you need to spend as much as you guys did to get rain gear! I got this for five dollars,” he beamed.

Well, that’s quite the savings, and for part of the next trip it was a sound solution. We were about 200 miles into a 350-mile trip when the rain started. Again, we pulled over and put on the wet gear. Ron was prepared this time and he donned his $5 Walmart rain suit with a sly smile on his face. He strutted around again, laughing at the others in the group who had spent anywhere from $100 to $1200 dollars for their gear. His smile disappeared somewhat when we pointed out that he had neglected to get waterproof gloves. Still, no big deal, so we set off to complete the last 150 miles to our destination.

We didn’t even make it out of the rest area parking lot when disaster struck. Ron managed to touch the exhaust on his bike with the pant leg of his rain suit and melted a hole in it. A little duct tape and he was convinced he was good to go.

I was riding behind Ron and I watched the whole thing happen. His rain suit was fluttering in the wind. Not much at first, but more and more as we rode along. Over the next few miles, Ron’s $5 rain suit ripped to shreds. It was so bad that he stopped at a gas station to take it off. He looked defeated as he removed the tattered rags and headed for a trash can. “Well there’s five f#!king dollars down the f#!king drain,” he mumbled as he threw the suit in the trash.

There’s not one sympathetic soul in our group of friends, so Ron heard about his failed solution for the remainder of the trip. Mother Nature even got in on the act of tormenting Ron, as it rained during the entire return trip. He showed up at work a few days later sporting new “high-dollar” rain gear. He didn’t get a top-of-the-line Aerostich suit, but a solid choice that should that a couple of the others used that should last more than a few miles up the road –though he did refuse to buy waterproof gloves.

Looks like it will be raining for a while.

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