Dark clouds are outside of the window, maybe it is raining and the roads are wet, so we hang up the helmet and head back inside. Most of us, if not all of us, have been guilty of it at one time or another, I will raise my hand here too.
But what happens when we do this too often, when we refuse to ride unless the roads are bone dry and the 7 moons have aligned to create the perfect riding conditions, is that we then put ourselves in danger when we find ourselves stuck in these situations, as we don’t have the necessary experience and confidence to tackle these situations.
The time when I was most confident in wet weather conditions was only a year or two after I obtained my motorbike license. The reason why this was the case was because I rode a lot, I got on my Suzuki naked motorbike and I rode every day. It didn’t matter if I took an extra 10 minutes to put wet weather gear on, or if I ended up at work absolutely saturated from the rain and puddles, I loved it and I rode. I don’t think that my car saw more than a couple of thousand kilometers in the first few years that I had my motorbike license.
Fast forward a few years and a few thousand kilometers in the saddle on a couple of different motorbikes and I find myself getting lazy, waiting for those 7 moons to align and the comfort of the car often is looked at very favorably.
So let’s say that you are one of the riders who have passed the motorbike theory test, you have paid all of those motorbike test costs and have your license, but you find that you are one of the riders who are waiting for the 7 moons to align before you will ride. Luckily on this particular morning you look up to the sky and things are looking just fabulous. You gear up, take off and have an hour or two on the saddle and stop for lunch. Then comes the rain.
What are you meant to do now? You are potentially a hundred or more kilometers from home, maybe you have ridden 10,000 kilometers this year, but close to none of it was in the wet. Your only choice, if the rain doesn’t clear up, is to ride back home through the wet weather.
You are now possibly in a more dangerous situation than someone who has just obtained their learner motorbike license for the first time, at least they know that they aren’t experienced riders!
If you put a learner on a wet road they are likely to be nervous, but it is also a pretty safe bet that they will be travelling at a relatively slow speed. However, put our example rider in the same situation, who has 10,000 kilometers of “7 moons aligned” experience and I bet that they are going to be travelling quite a bit faster. Your more “experienced” rider if riding as part of a group will also very likely feel pressured to ride at the pace of the rest of the group, they have these years of experience after all.
Many different areas are now starting to bring in, or have in place already, logbook style requirements in order to progress to the next stage of your motorbike license, including the need to ride in different weather conditions. This is experience that a motorbike theory test can’t make up for. It is important, if not absolutely critical, that you experience riding in all conditions, because sooner or later you are going to be stuck on one of these situations.
Sure it may be unpleasant at the time as you may get wet, cold and feel miserable for a while, but at least you are controlling when you are gaining this experience. It is a lot less pleasant when you don’t have any choice but to head on through the tough conditions no matter where you are, the weather doesn’t care if you are on a dangerous road filled with potholes which runs along the side of a cliff with a large drop off.
Learn and build the relevant experience on your own terms. Face that wet, horrible, windy weather in areas that you are familiar with. The wet gloves will be well worth it the next time when you are stuck riding your motorbike in horrible conditions in an area that you are unfamiliar with. It may even save your life.
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