This monthís safety discussion is on a subject that Iíve partially covered several times in the past, but never really addressed head-on.† Iíve talked about the importance of maintaining good visibility, what gear to pack, how & where to pack it, how to get to it safely when you need and so on.† But I donít think Iíve ever discuss actual strategies for riding in the rain.
When riding in the rain, there are 3 items of critical importance and a 4th item of lesser importance.† What are these 3 critical items?
If youíre going to be riding, you need to see where the heck youíre going.† You canít do that if youíre trying to look through glasses with water drops on both sides, especially dark sun glasses, added to a too tall windshield that has water drops on both sides, especially if itís a dark tinted windshield.† Use goggles or a full-face helmet with integral shield.† Those choices will limit the rain to just the outside, which can be wiped off with the back of the glove† or blown off by getting your face into the wind.† And get a windshield thatís low enough to look over in the rain while still providing some wind protection.
Make sure you can be seen. †Black rain suits may look cool & match your black leathers look, but when itís raining & visibility is poor, you need bright, reflective gear so the other traffic sees and notices you.† If you donít, youíre going to get introduced to some carís bumper in a most unsubtle way.
Wet roads can be slick roads.† Especially in the first few minutes of rain when the debris and oils begin to float up onto the surface of the rain hitting the roadway.† This is the time to slow down, not speed up like youíre going to a race to get out of the rain.† Smooth & steady is the trick here.† No sudden swerves, braking or throttle movements.† Less means more here; less sudden changes in attitude, direction or speed means more traction for your tires.† Also watch for & avoid combining any necessary changes in attitude, speed or direction with slip hazards like metal grates, painted lines, manhole covers, steel plates and the like.† Especially when pulling off the road into a drive or parking lot that crosses a concrete gutter with water in it.
Finally, the lesser important item:
Why is this of lesser importance?† Because ignore or be without any of the first 3 items will get you an ambulance ride to the hospital where theyíll just cut your clothes off you whether theyíre dry or not.† Besides, we all know that even with the best rain gear, if you ride in the rain long enough, youíll get something wet anyway.