The Throttle Stop – February 2023 – Rain or Shine

2018 Silverstone MotoGP Canceled

Usually, California is a year-round riding state where the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and canyon roads are as clear as the blue sky. This winter has delivered far more variables, putting the kibosh on riding as much as I’d aim to achieve. And per the rules for any California resident, I’m nearly compelled to say that we needed the rain, too. The frigid weather and a few larger storms have left many of our scenic mountains capped with a thick layer of snow. It’s also the first time in a couple of decades I regret hooking a buddy up with my old snowboarding gear. Alas, high-school-aged Nic didn’t think that one through.

Aprilia Claudio Corti at NJMP

Over the winter break and into the new year, much of California was pretty damp. General moistness extended into January as well. That’s probably going to stand as the understatement of the year. Still, though the Southern California region didn’t experience nearly the same storm intensity as the Bay Area, we got a decent taste.

During weather like that, hitting the road on your average street-faring motorcycle can be a bear without the right gear. Waterproof layers and gear, Pinlocks, and unimpressive lean angles are standard fares when the skies open up. Yet, a part of me enjoys it. I could certainly do without the mudslides and general rough shape in which it leaves the roads, but I suppose it keeps everyone on their toes. Riding in the rain reminds me of being a kid—donning the quintessential yellow raincoat, and splashing around outside during any mildly notable weather system that crossed my path.

It’s all about perspective, so to speak. If you’re simply looking for some diversion on a rainy day, then building little paper boats and letting them set sail down the curb gutters sounds like an excellent time to a kid. In all honesty, it sounds compelling as an adult, too.

The same goes for riding. Getting caught out in a positively biblical downpour often makes for a great story after the fact, and if done now and again, it can be a somewhat refreshing experience. Regaling friends of your harrowing journey where proverbial cats and dogs fell from the skies can be good conversational filler. My trip to Arai’s manufacturing facilities in Japan certainly falls into that camp, where I experienced most, but not all, extremes. Who knew that a tropical climate could vary so much? Everyone except me, apparently.

27 arai closing shot Nic de Sena Ultimate Motorcycling

It’s a somewhat rare opportunity to splash around like a kid again, and doing it on a motorcycle can be even better, depending on the circumstances. And when you’re equipped to handle different weather conditions, then riding in it can be entertaining. There is a novelty to it, as someone who calls a drought-ridden state home.

Now, if you happen to be riding to an event at 6:30 a.m. and forced to lane-split through the notorious San Diego Freeway traffic while shivering furiously, then the grumbling is justified, and my heart goes out to you.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider that a large portion of our great nation is enjoying a deep freeze this time of year. That doesn’t totally exclude off-road riding for the braver souls among us, but you get that idea.

So, how do motorcyclists occupy their time while avoiding getting drenched? One would naturally point to all the maintenance we have been putting off for some time. Perhaps it’s time to throw on those bolt-on components or begin prepping for the next racing season, if you’re the kind of person who likes to hang out near checkered flags.

Years ago, I once had a trainer tell me about the concept of “rest days,” explaining that our bodies need time to recoup and recover. Now, he did say days, although he didn’t specify what that actually meant. There wasn’t a doctor-recommended number following that. The fact is, there are good days and bad days to ride. Good thing Supercross fired back up, and the forecast is looking good, because we’ve got some riding to catch up on.