When you ride a motorcycle in the Northwest you find out very early that you must make an important decision. That involves whether or not your going to ride in the rain and to what degree. There are a couple of main thoughts around this.
1. You simply don’t ride in the rain. This is going to significantly reduce the amount of time available to ride as we get rain 7-8 months out of the year.
2. You start out in the dry but will ride in the rain in order to get home.
3. You accept where you live and ride year around regardless of the weather Mother Nature throws at us.
It’s interesting this time a year because the first two groups I mentioned start coming out of hibernation while the third group has been riding now for many months. So what makes riding year around possible and why do people choose that path?
I know for myself I started riding year around out of necessity. I found myself in a position where my only mode of transportation was a 2002 GSXR 1K it wasn’t the best commuter bike, but it was what I had and I made it work. At first my biggest challenge was that I didn’t have the right gear. I quickly found that I needed some decent rain gear. So I picked up a rain suit. That worked for awhile but after two or three months my rain suit wasn’t doing what I needed. It was time to look at motorcycle specific gear. There are tons of options out there to chose from based on style, look and price. I wanted an Aerostich but couldn’t justify the cost at that point in my life. So I went with a Joe Rocket Jacket and some used HD rain pants I picked up at a garage sale. These worked much better then my $29.99 rain suit but I know that it wasn’t a long term solution to staying dry. I saved up my money over the next year and ended up getting a Firstgear jacket and pants. This was the like stepping out of the dark ages. Every thing fit pretty good and most importantly it kept me dry most the time no matter what the weather dished out. I wore that outfit for the better part of 10 years. It did me well and I have nothing negative to say about Firstgear. Over those years life took many twists and turns and after a few year I did get another car. However, I found that I preferred to ride. I was an overall happier person when I rode vs drove and made every effort to ride as much as possible. I share all this because something that I stated into naively has turned into a huge passion. My situation has changed quite a bit. I have my dream bike and dream suit but that joy of riding year around is something that some find hard to understand. Non riders don’t understand why I would choose to ride when it’s 48 degrees and raining outside. But for those that have embraced the call to ride daily, those brave souls understand. They understand why there is a bit of joy when riding in bad weather and you receive a curious look from a driver? Why the pitter patter of rain drops on your helmet is a sweet peaceful song. If you haven’t yet taken the step into year around riding I encourage you to start that journey. Just remember gear counts.
Spring has sprung here in the Northwest and that means spring riding gloves. A few years back I bought a pair of Aerostich Elk Skin ropers. These gloves now have about 10k miles on them and have tons of life left. I’ve owned lots and lots of gloves made by lots of brands over the last 20 years. For everyday riding these ropers are my favorite. They fit exceptionally well, they are very breathable yet still provide some warmth on those cooler Spring morning and let’s be honest they look really cool. If you haven’t tried a pair yet I would highly suggest trying some soon. #livetheadventureridetheworld. #aerostich
I was able to get out for a bit today and head up Hwy 14 towards Stevenson, Wa. It was a beautiful day to ride in the PNW. The sun was out and the roads were pretty empty. I also managed to get WA1, my first memorial for the @tourofhonor it was a 9/11 Memorial and I was reminded of all the emotion and horror of that day. I also thought of the thousands of families impacted by those terrorist attacks. I look forward to doing many more of these Memorials.
Just throwing this out there. Motorcycles make me happy! There is something incredibly therapeutic about riding. Even if it involves mind numbing traffic. It’s so fascinating how much less stressed I feel after a ride. Who else finds riding therapeutic?
May is motorcycle safety month. There are two main areas to focus on 1: Rider education. Always be looking for ways to improve your skills. 2: Public education. Start talking to those around you about the importance of watching for riders. Think about ways that you can make others aware of riders.
Today on the way into work my bike rolled over 1000 miles. For any new bike this is a milestone. However this small milestone got me thinking about how last summer I did even more miles then that in 16.5 hours. How , if all goes well, I hope to do 1500 miles in around 24-30 hours. Miles are such a fascinating thing. They can lead you to so many places. In the IBA there is a ride called the 50CC and the 100CCC. In these rides people are riding from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans in 50 hours! In the 100 is to the opposite coast and back in 100 hours. When I think about what others have done my little 1000 miles feels pretty small. However I’m still proud of those miles. I hope to put many more on this year.
Since Dec 2016 I have only worn my Aerostich R3 suit to ride. Before that I wore Firstgear. Rainer Jacket and the HT overpaint. Today I wore that set up to work. Wow. It was a very interesting experience. I can’t say enough about the quality of Aerostich. I’ll still wear my 2 piece gear on occasion but today certainly made me excited for when I can afford a Darien jacket with the AD-1 pants. It’s hard to beat Aerostich quality. This by no means a knock on Firstgear. They make good product and I was happy with them for year. However compared to my experience with Aerostich there is no going back. For me there are two major things. First is that Aerostich custom builds their gear for each rider. For my suit I went to a pop up. Got measured and spent about an hour walking through with a consultant around the fit. I had actually been trying the Darien/ AD 1 Combo out and went with the suit. Anyways the service experience was great but then when i received the suit it fit perfect. I’ve been riding for 20+ years and have owned a lot of gear in that time frame. Nothing has fit me like my suit does. The second thing is the quality of materials they use. I can relate it to bikes. If all you’ve ever ridden is a early 1970s bike and that’s been your reality you think it’s great. And it is. It will do everything you want it to. However if you then ride a new 2016 FJR your reality changes and your eyes are open to what else is out there. For me Aerostich was that type of experience. The fit and finish of their products is excellent. That said don’t take my word for it. See it there are any Pop ups close to you or heck plan a road trip and go to Duluth. But if your looking for gear I would encourage anyone to try a Aerostich. Yes they are expensive but to me I ride a lot and I think if it in an investment in my safety and my comfort. #aerostich
Each week work day I ride to work, as do many people. I live in East Vancouver WA, and work in NW Portland. Distance wise its about 20 miles however traffic makes it about a 35 minute ride in the morning and 45+ in the afternoons. I’ve ridden a fair amount in this great country and must say that Portland traffic, especially I5 North is some of the worst I have encountered outside of California. Lately I have noticed an interesting trend. It seems like more and more riders are spiting lanes to try and beat this sludge of traffic hell. This troubles me. I am a huge proponent of legal lane sharing. I think it should be legal and promoted in all 50 states. I have traveled in Europe and the Middle East. I have seen first had what successful lane sharing can look like. However, the fact remains that it’s not legal in either Oregon or Washington currently. My concerns with riders using the shoulders and lane splitting boil down to a few main points. A few definitions from my standpoint. Lane Sharing is defined as “the practice of operating a vehicle in a traffic lane in a manner that allows other traffic to use the unused portion of the lane, or to pass slower traffic in the lane by using an unused portion of the lane.” To me there are guides to lane sharing and that is one of the issues.
It is unsafe when drivers are not accustomed to such actions. This is each rider’s choice but as a former MSF instructor and motorcycle safety advocate I hate seeing riders taking unnecessary risks. When drivers don’t expect a bike to be next to them people can get hurt. Also they can get angry. Road rage is real and bikes cruising by
It casts a poor light on other riders. I was recently talking to some co-workers and the topic of traffic came up. Pretty shortly they were talking about how much they disliked motorcycles. I inquired why and they went on to talk about how they felt the riders thought they were “special” and “above the law”. I personally disliked being grouped into this category. I’m a responsible rider that chooses not to split lanes. However, in the eyes of the general public we are all “riders” and the actions of some could impact others.
I worry I that these actions dilute the work that is being done to make lane sharing legal in Oregon and Washington. It’s hard to get laws passed when people have a prior negative experience.
I know traffic sucks> I deal with it daily but I encourage riders to think before buzzing between cars.
April 1st kicked off the start of the Tour of Honor. This is going to be my first year doing the tour and I’m excited to be apart in a great event. As I looked over the list of 14 stops between Oregon and Washington I’m excited. There are a few that will be a challenge like the one in Gold Beach and the other in Anacortes. These will take a bit more effort but I’m confident I’ll get them all. My goal for this Tour of Honor is to get all 7 each in both Oregon and Washington. If I’m able to get any others then that will be a bonus. I also want to complete a SS1K with the TOH. This involves visiting 5 Memorials while sticking to the Iron Butt rules for a SS. This also will be tough but I have a fair idea of how I’m going to do that. I hope that this is a great riding season and that these fun rides will be a nice compliment to the daily commuting.
I took a great ride out to the gorge today. It was so fun getting to head up to one of my favorite places. This was the first time riding in the Gorge since the fires this summer. Hwy 14 was busy but I was still able to have a brisk ride. #aerostich