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Old 05-10-2010, 01:23 AM   #1
jeff10236
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Default How long before riding in the rain?

So, I got my license a week ago today. I rode every day this week, though the first day was just to pull my bike from the outer parking lot of my apartment complex into the garage. I plan to ride to work today (just under 20 miles each way).

However, everyday except today for this week they are talking about rain and thunderstorms. We may get out of it one or two days (some only have 20%, 30% or 40% chances of rain).

I have been trying to introduce myself to new situations a little at a time. I feel decent with everyday riding now (though 20 miles will be the furthest I've ridden at one time, though it won't be the longest saddle time by far). I'm still getting used to higher speeds (50-55 was the fastest I've gone, on a 45mph road, and I was only semi-comfortable). Yesterday and Saturday I spent a fair amount of time in the saddle (two rides yesterday and about 20 miles, 1 1/2 hour ride and a shorter second ride Saturday- though fewer miles since it was on roads with slower speeds). I have spent a lot of time in parking lots practicing slow speed maneuvers (still having a little trouble with the slow speed U-turn).

So, I hate to go a week without riding (assuming the rain pans out each day). I won't ride to work and commit to that much saddle time, but I am thinking about shorter rides after work. Obviously, if we get lucky one or two afternoons there isn't much to worry about. However, if it rains everyday would you guys think I should be ready to add riding in the rain to my experiences? I'd probably stay on slower roads again, and I probably wouldn't go out for more than 20-30min at a time. I just really hate the idea of going a week without riding (there is even a chance of rain next weekend), but I don't want to push too fast if I don't have enough experience to try riding in the rain.

So, what do you all think?

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Old 05-10-2010, 03:22 AM   #2
Dr_Sprocket
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I think it was about 3 months before I started riding in the rain on purpose (i.e. knowing that it was going to rain and riding anyway). Cars do it. Bikes can do it, too. You just need to go slower, especially in corners. Because you are new to your bike, and new to your bike in a higher traffic area, I would suggest not riding in the rain this week.

Remember, discretion is the better part of valor. FWIW, I'll be riding to work this week. Then again, I have overpants and anti-fog for my visor. Perhaps you could take a specific "training ride" on wet streets as a trial before riding to work?
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:48 AM   #3
jeff10236
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I think it was about 3 months before I started riding in the rain on purpose (i.e. knowing that it was going to rain and riding anyway). Cars do it. Bikes can do it, too. You just need to go slower, especially in corners. Because you are new to your bike, and new to your bike in a higher traffic area, I would suggest not riding in the rain this week.

Remember, discretion is the better part of valor. FWIW, I'll be riding to work this week. Then again, I have overpants and anti-fog for my visor. Perhaps you could take a specific "training ride" on wet streets as a trial before riding to work?
Yeah, I definitely won't be riding to work on any day with a good chance of rain for a while. I did ride today (only day this week that we aren't supposed to get rain) and I had a ball. It was a great ride, though my hands got a little cold (my only motorcycle gloves are perforated leather summer gloves, and it was 42 degrees out when I left this morning).

I'm thinking 15-30min short rides, on 35-40mph roads, as a first rain experience. I'll skip the faster or busiest roads (though there are no roads around here that aren't busy at all). I am starting to feel pretty comfortable on my bike (I was at 50-55mph for a good stretch on my commute this morning and even that is starting to feel pretty good). However, I'm still pretty new and riding in the rain will probably be a pretty different experience. I guess I'm trying to figure if I'd be better off adding riding in the rain now and continuing to get practice this week or if I'd be better off waiting until I have more experience even if that means nearly a week without riding (a week off this early in my skills development will probably mean I'll lose some of what I've gained the past few days).
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:16 AM   #4
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If you do have to ride in the rain never ride until it has rained enough to get the roads really washed off. After a couple weeks of dry weather enough dust and crap lays on the road surfaces that the initial rain creates very slick conditions. It may seem counter-intuitive but the roads are safer for bikes when they are very wet.
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:33 AM   #5
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Give it some time for sure. You have enough to worry about without adding rain to the mix unless you have no choice. Even if you're fine with it, the cagers are even more dangerous...hard to believe, but there it is.

Watch for large areas of white paint on the road, like turn arrows etc. That stuff can be like ice when wet. Also watch for areas like toll booths where car oil and anti-freeze build up. Again, they can be like ice.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:29 AM   #6
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Ditto what the others said about slick spots and waiting. I'd avoid it if possible for as long as possible. I know you're feeling confident and comfortable but the biggest issue with wet weather is visibility both yours and other drivers, think fogged up rain streaked windows in cars. In fact next time it rains turn off your wipers for a little while and see how quickly you go blind, then try it at night.....granted that's an extreme example but you get the picture. I don't know what the traffic mix is there, I assume it's pretty built up but if there's any where rural I'd do my practicing there if I could.

I think you're on the right track and you seem enthusiastic and all but take it slow and learn a little at a time, you've got the rest of your life to ride, you don't have to jam it all into a week or two.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:24 AM   #7
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Many things that aren't a big deal in the dry become much more hazardous when it's wet out. Paint lines were already mentioned, and some others to think about are tar snakes, expansion joints (any metal at all is really slick) and most intersections, where cars tend to sit and drip. Don't overlook the issues of visibility either. With road spray (water and the rest of the junk that gets kicked up), rain, and flat light it's both harder to see and harder to be seen, and your shield can get very tough to see through, depending on the conditions.

There are a number of strategies to riding more safely when it's raining, but generally it comes to experience and knowing where the dangers lie. As far as the basics, your tires will have a lot more grip than you think on pavement or concrete, but are not able to handle combined traction issues as well (turning and braking, for example) and don't recover traction as easily once it's broken. Quick or abrupt transitions that are no issue in the dry can also be disastrous in the wet - smoothness is even more important.

When it's warm out, riding in the rain can really be nice. One of my two wrecks, though, was a direct result of wet roads. I was aware and being careful, but a wet tar snake got me at an intersection less than 1/4 mi from my house.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:55 AM   #8
trenttheuncatchable
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Get some Clarity Defog for your helmet.

The biggest issue for me when it comes to riding in the rain is the weight of the bike. So I will always take the lightest bike available for the circumstances. That was the Ninja 250, until I sold it. Since you don't have that option, don't be in too much of a hurry to go riding in the rain. There is a huge difference in riding conditions between wet and dry, and cars are more dangerous, too. If you do go out in the rain, make sure you take short trips at first, and take roads you're already familiar with riding in dry conditions.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:29 AM   #9
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Maybe so I won't push too much too fast, but also not lose too much practice time, what I'll do is skip the first day of rain. I won't go out and I'll see what happens. If the rain continues the next day I'll play it by ear and I may go out and on the third day I will definitely go out, but I'll act like I'm starting over from scratch. So, when I go out I'll start with parking lot practice only the first rainy day I'm out there (and possibly the second), and from there I'll move on to more.
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Old 05-10-2010, 02:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff10236 View Post
Maybe so I won't push too much too fast, but also not lose too much practice time, what I'll do is skip the first day of rain. I won't go out and I'll see what happens. If the rain continues the next day I'll play it by ear and I may go out and on the third day I will definitely go out, but I'll act like I'm starting over from scratch. So, when I go out I'll start with parking lot practice only the first rainy day I'm out there (and possibly the second), and from there I'll move on to more.
As mentioned above, watch out for the white painted lane arrows, crosswalks, and manhole covers. Any wet metal grates or grids, commonly found on bridges, also can be quite slick when wet.

Good advice from all above.
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