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Southern Rail: Aquaphobia

By Robert Filla

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I’m sitting in my office writing this month’s column, listening to the rainstorm outside that’s expected to drop as much as four inches before day’s end. Rain is a good thing, I’m told. It makes crops grow, cleanses the air of pollution and gives fish something to swim in. Children love to splash in the puddles left behind, lovers make babies while it pounds upon the roof and bikers, well… bikers get wet. I hate rain.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t really “hate” rain. I understand the stuff is a necessary evil—kinda like seatbelts, crosswalks, condoms—pretty damn valuable, but at times a major inconvenience. Especially if you ride. And especially, if like me, you don’t own a car. Or a truck. Or a moto-taxi or anything with wheels and a roof. When I bought my 100th anniversary Road King I sold my pickup and haven’t had a four-wheel vehicle in my name for 10 years now. I do have access to such contrivances, but on most occasions, if I’m going somewhere, it’s by motorcycle. And as impressive as that may seem, it’s not always so. I’ve even discovered over the last decade that rain can cause severe health problems.

I work out of a satellite field office. That’s fancy code for I work out of my house. Sitting in front of a computer is a major part of the job. As is installing new parts and testing them. And riding. I ride a whole lot. Except when it’s raining. Then I don’t ride at all. And since I don’t own a car, I sit in front of my computer on those rainy days occupying my time eating things I shouldn’t eat. Yep, rain makes you fat. I’m living proof. And being fat is apparently not healthy. I hate being fat.

And I hate motorcycle front fenders too. I’ve never seen a motorcycle that didn’t look a lot sexier and carry more bruiser swagger without a front fender. Even dirt bikes look cool without one. And antique full baggers, with that 16” spinning chunk of rubber hanging out there all by its lonesome, carry massive appeal. But it’s damn near impossible to get by without a front fender. Even the mildest shower will totally screw up a clean bike. And that idea of an old, red shop rag tied between the forks leaves you with little more than a filthy bike and a soaking wet shop rag. So although I hate rain and front fenders, one necessitates the need of the other.

And don’t even get me started on rain suits. I own one and I’m sure it’s stuffed in a cubbyhole somewhere. Think I saw it about three or four years ago. But it’s never part of my road gear since every time I’ve ever actually taken the time to get “suited-up” (usually after I’m already “soaking wet”), I took one look at myself in the mirror and stripped it back off out of embarrassment. (The garish yellow color of the slicker stained with chain lube would most likely earn me a citation from the fashion police anyway.) And the last time I did actually attempt to wear it, I ended up glue-melted to my exhaust with a yellow glob of plastic that defied my soggy shop rag.

And I have major problems with full-face helmets. Although they are a cardinal asset during stormy weather, they become a claustrophobic sauna when the sun reappears, making me wish for my half-helmet. And there ain’t no way I’m carrying two helmets.

And keeping high-dollar camera gear moisture free can be a most daunting challenge even with hard bags. Yeah, I hate rain on so many levels.

And people proudly state, “If you don’t ride in the rain, then you don’t ride.” That’s not exactly true. I ride; I just don’t ride in the damn rain. Instead I find the nearest steak house with a decent selection of lager across the street from comfy accommodations. And I ponder the mysteries of life, solving all the world’s problems, sampling the establishment’s finest fare, watching it rain, getting fat. But that’s okay—I may be fat but I’m fat and dry.

So my Shovel has no front fender, I have no need for a rain suit, my half helmet is my hat of choice and my camera stays dry, all because I made the simple decision to not ride in the rain. Not sure just yet how to tackle that fat dilemma.

Hey, there’s the sun, peaking out from behind a cloud. Looks like everything’s clearing out and the roads should be dry in an hour or so. Maybe I have time for a short ride before sunset—enjoying the smell of the countryside after a solid drenching. You know, sometimes I love rain.

 

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