Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Wet’

I-5 (S) In Route To Team Oregon – ART

“June Gloom” – It’s a southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer.

We should be so lucky in Oregon!

Our “May Grey” was followed by a full on rain storm today.  Surprise, the first week of June is heavy rain and to top it off there is the forecast of snow down to 3000 feet in the cascades.

It turns out that I took the day off work and planned to attend the Team Oregon Advanced Rider Training (ART) with some rider friends.  In the paperwork, Team Oregon made it very clear.  Regardless of the weather, rain or shine the one-day course would happen so come prepared.

You see ART is not a high speed, racing-oriented class, but it provides riders a chance to build skills on an enclosed track while getting feedback from expert instructors. It’s designed for the rider who has at least 12,000 miles of current, on-street riding experience and includes 4 hours of range (riding) instruction including cornering, braking, swerving and traction management.

Advanced Rider Training Is Cancelled

So, I put on the rain gear and departed the house in heavy rain to take on the morning rush hour traffic.  Merged onto I-5 with the visible oil sheen and “rooster tails” from semi-trucks while watching a couple of folks on their cell phones – I suppose they had to tell friends just how wet the roads were – to arrive 35 minutes later at the Pat’s Acres Racing Complex and learn that the instructors cancelled the class!  Huh?  And get this… because the track was too oily and wet.

Are you tracking with me here?  It’s Oregon!  Duh.  I just spent the morning on an oil slick I-5 corridor accelerating/braking in stop-n-go traffic, making lane-change transitions, passing semi-trucks while thinking about my traction judgment and then safely existing the freeway and smoothly cornering through the curves of the Canby ramp only to find out that Pat’s “little race track” has an oil sheen and the rain made it slippery when wet!  Are you kidding me?  Really.

Who are these people?!  Isn’t the idea of this course to help riders improve judgment and skills by linking turns and choosing better lines in the rain. To get better in the type of weather conditions that are fairly routine in the Northwest.  And to practice on a closed course vs. on the interstate, right?   So let me get this straight.  The weather is too challenging to learn, but it’s okay for riders to head back home in the very same conditions that required them to cancel?  Worse yet was the fact that several people had called 30 minutes prior to the start of the class and obtained confirmation that it was still on.

I’m sure the Team Oregon office in Corvallis didn’t appreciate my phone call.  But, they did hear my “pull your head out” message and where to send my refund!

Photo taken by author (GoPro Helmet Camera) 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

You (almost) thought it would never happen but, finally, winter is waning.

Let’s face it, riding anything (including a riding lawn mower) in the northwest has been a chilling and damp experience!  And we still have many cold, wet days ahead even though spring is supposedly here.

Portland (OR) normally receives an average of 3.71 inches of rain during March, but at the end of the month we had received 6.49 inches (5th highest on record) and there were 29 days of measurable rain breaking the old record of 27 days.  And on the very last day of month was the first time we witnessed the temperature gauge hitting 60 degrees… the latest date in recorded history to reach that mark.  Yep, a lot of records were broken and not necessarily in a good way.

But, no worries if you like the drizzle it’s going to be another soggy week throughout the area with high temperatures reaching all the way up to the mid- 50s.

My point is that I’m trying to sketch out my spring and summer riding entertainment and the weather is making it difficult to visualize.  What with all the boating, hiking, photography, local festivals and drinking of refreshments over the BBQ I’m not sure if I can fit it all in which is largely dependent on when the rain will subside.   Last year I laid a plan out HERE and was fortunate to have the budget to complete three (Laughlin70th SturgisStreet Vibrations) of the five trips as well as the Hells Canyon rally.  It was a lot of miles and a good riding year in my book!

One which will be difficult to repeat as the Zac Brown Band song, “Toes” rolls around in my head…

“I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today, life is good today…”

It got me to thinking about all those miles last year and the first surprise to me is how much better motorcycle clothing has become.  It use to be a worn out leather jacket to carry you through summer and winter riding, augmented with a vest or long sleeve shirt or two.  Now days there are heated hand grips, heated clothing and a variety of wind blocking jackets with reflective piping.  In addition there are all these Gore-Tex waterproof pullovers, neckerchiefs and face masks that do exactly what they were meant too.

Let’s see, if drizzle falls at about 3-4mph and big rain drops fall at about 7-8mph… then the difference of a walk in the rain vs. a motorcycle ride in the rain is about ten times the speed.  Ten times as much water hits you per second.  I won’t go into the mathematical proof here, but think about that and the fact that rain is hitting the rider horizontally, not just vertically.   First the air gets cold, then the rider is hit with a wall of spray from trucks that is mixed with oil residue all the while the face shield accumulates condensation … Is there any wonder why so many motorcyclists try and limit their riding in the rain?!  But, I’ve really digressed.

Time to hit “repeat” on the iPod and sketch out my riding plans…for when there is less rain!

Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

It’s a reference to the Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR) song that gained popularity in the early ‘70s.  It was written by John Fogerty and originally recorded for their Cosmo’s Factory album. It has a mellow acoustic, folk-rock feel to it that you can sing-a-long, but if you do I doubt you’ll feel good about riding in the rain!

And speaking of rain.  The “Rain Train” won’t stop.  We’ve been plagued with a prominent winter weather pattern the past two months.  It’s walloped the spring motorcycle riding season in the northwest.  I’m not talking about weather that is somewhat imperfect for motorcycle riding…we’re talking about unseasonably cold temperatures, rain gushers, multi-day storms, wind shears, and what looks to be the new normal…riding in perpetual wet.

They’ve switch from measuring the amount of rain fallen in a day to the number of consecutive days rain has fallen!   Sad but true.

Even if you get past all the Gore-Tex dress-up for the wetness, you still have traction and vision issues to confront.  Nothing like hydroplaning on a motorcycle.  Or how about those curves where the surface oil makes it feel like buttered Teflon?

Most riders get use to riding in the rain more by accident than choice.  You depart in the morning for a day long ride with the sun shining then you find a thunder shower sometime later in the day.  I know some of you are saying “what rain?”  Good for you.  When it’s 49 degrees and sloppy,  I say “Wet Ride? Why.”  But, now I’m concerned that the wet weather will continue through the summer.

I’ve resorted to surfing the net for better rain gear because not riding is not an option…for long.

Photo courtesy of AccuWeather.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Banff Departure - Wet and Cold

Banff Departure - Wet and Cold

When rain begins flowing off the front and back of your motorcycle helmet you can’t help but have a dampened riding spirit, but there is a saying in Alberta… “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

Well we waited several minutes, but the early morning departure out of Banff didn’t change the hard cold facts.  It was 47 degrees and wet!   Where did this damn winter weather come from?   Indeed there were ominous black clouds circling around the town and after we fueled up and traveled 10 minutes down the road they busted loose.  We were not caught unaware.  Parking under an overpass we climbed into full rain gear.  Yet, the steady downpour seemed to soak everything.

Frank Slide - Frank, Alberta

Frank Slide - Frank, Alberta

We determined our rain gear was worth every penny, but hardly a fashion statement as we fumbled around trying to get it all on.  They are typically a bit musty smelly after being rolled up for months, heavy to wear and somewhat long, but they did the trick and kept us dry.  The good news in all of this?   After about 30 minutes and before we reached Radium Hot Springs the rain was history, the road had dried out and we spent time discussing wildlife (Coyote, Deer etc) seen in route through Kootenay National Park.  Despite being named after a radioactive element the hot springs has none and is has the largest pool of 103 degree water in Canada.  As cold as the day started it was most difficult not to check in and grab a few hours in the hot spring!

Border - Chief Mountain

Border - Chief Mountain

Exiting Radium the posse split up.  Part of the crew wanted to travel more miles and make it to the “Going to the Sun Road” in St. Mary, Montana.  Others wanted to steer clear of any rain and elected to navigate toward a more southerly and warmer route to Cranbrook and then to Missoula, MT.

We were part of the “more miles” crew and the cold weather limited our sightseeing and photo stops, but a couple items stood out.  First was the Frank Slide in Frank, Alberta.  Frank is a coal mining town in the Crowsnest Pass.  Back in the early 1900’s the east side of Turtle Mountain broke free and the slab of limestone rock covered 1.5 miles destroying most of the town and killing 76 people.  It’s now a regional tourist attraction.  The second was tucked away in the rugged mountains — the little town of Fernie, BC.  It is fully encircled by the Rocky Mountains and has a ski resort (Fernie Alpine Resort) with the highest annual snowfall of any resort in the Canadian Rockies.

St. Mary Lodge and Resort - St. Mary, MT

St. Mary Lodge and Resort - St. Mary, MT

We crossed the Elk River, home of the cutthroat trout and forged on toward Pincher Creek, Twin Butte and through the Waterton Lakes National Park.  Finally we rolled into the U.S. border crossing at the tiny Chief Mountain Alberta/Montana outpost on Highway 6 (Alberta) and Highway 17 (Montana).  After riding for hours in very remote, very wooded and very sparsely populated areas, one is reminded that you’re on the world’s longest undefended border. It’s a catchy yet increasingly imprecise term for the U.S.-Canada frontier.  The northern border is mostly out of the spotlight.  As authorities on both sides ratchet up efforts to curb bustling traffic in illegal drugs and guns it’s odd that the U.S.-Mexico border draws far more attention — and more American resources.  But again I’ve wandered…

St. Mary Lodge Cabin

St. Mary Lodge Cabin

At about 6pm local we arrived at the Saint Mary Lodge on junction Hwy89 and the “Going to the Sun Road” which runs through Glacier National Park (Montana).  It was a long riding day.  Fortunately we’d made reservations weeks in advance and secured the remaining cabins vs. a replica Indian tepee.  The place was fully booked!  There was no cell phone service and the Hughes Net Satellite internet was malfunctioning… so, we were off the tweet grid!  Side note: if you plan to go this route an alternative is to stay in Pincher Creek, Alberta where they had several motels and you won’t have to make reservations months in advance for the Park service lodge. Had we known this we would have avoided the rustic cabin adventure.

After grabbing some fairly good grub at the Snowgoose Grill we crashed with four TV channels looking forward to the next days ride through Glacier park.

The 107 to 47 Journey – Part One HERE; Part Two HERE; Part Four HERE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Need I say more? 

Don’t get me wrong I like fall and during the winter I manage to shred the mountain a couple of times, but I’m just not ready to end the great riding season of 2008

But it’s turned cold and as you can clearly see  on the weather chart its going to be very wet this weekend!

So in protest I’m going to boycott winter stuff this weekend. I’m not going to bust out the jeans and the sweater.  I’ll be the one in the coffee line with a mild case of Hypothermia caused by an extended exposure to a damp environment… but, I’ll be in my favorite Hamm’s t-shirt and flip-flaps…I’m not going to let it be winter. No, I won’t, I won’t!

Forecast reminds me of that Gary Allen song about rain

Read Full Post »

The calendar states it’s Spring here in the Northwest, but it seems more Spring in some places than others.  

We’ve had 4 back-to-back days of morning snow/rain and temperatures in the mid-30’s!  During the day we’ve seen sleet, hail and rain down pours temporarily flooding streets.  What is going on?  This should be the time of year where warmer weather brings out the motorcycles.

I did see a biker this past Saturday.  Some dude (no he wasn’t wearing “colors”) on I-5 riding North bound on what looked like a new Flat Black Cross Bones, but who could see?  Wipers on high, couple of inches of standing water in the middle lane and hail the size of pencil erasers pelting my windshield.  Even with a full face helmet that dude didn’t have to worry about a “blind spot” because no one could see him or anyone else on the freeway for that matter!

I know why I ride, but for the life of me I can’t think of a reason why that dude was riding…at least not on that day!

Photo courtesy of Burnszilla.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: