In my nine months of being a Harley-Davidson rider, I have had a few adventures and have learned a few lessons. Some lessons were learned on a recent road trip out of state.
For example, I learned that one should always check the weather report. I also learned that it doesn’t really matter if you check your own weather report if you don’t also check the weather reports at your destination — and along the route.
The local weather reports indicated that the next several days ahead of me would be sunny and warm, with barely a cloud in the sky. The place where I was headed was expecting thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and the danger of tornadoes. What a nice surprise.
I learned that hydroplaning in a car is one thing and quite something else on a machine with two wheels. Fortunately, that little event occurred on an off-ramp and I was able to keep the bike upright and, at the same time, avoid sliding uncontrollably into oncoming traffic.
Being a rookie to riding in thunderstorms on interstate highways, once the rain started in earnest, I slowed down from 65-70 to around 50-55. I felt much safer and more confident at the slower speed — especially after the hydroplaning incident.
Tractor-trailer rigs, with their massive weight and 18 wheels, apparently have no such need to cut their speed back. So, when the trucks rocketed past me in the downpour, I was baptized all over again, as water, spray, dirt, and grit washed over me with each passing truck.
I have a great rain suit made by “Frog Toggs.” This rain suit is reported to be among the very best on the market. It works best, however, if you put it on before the rain starts, not after you have been in a thunderstorm for half an hour. What you get when you put it on over wet clothes is mostly cold and miserable, regardless of how warm the weather is.
Another lesson I learned is, that if you are wearing Frog Toggs and are cold and miserable, do not hug the motorcycle with your legs in an attempt to stay warm. Frog Toggs melt. The melting Frog Toggs also will leave a messy residue on chrome exhaust pipes.
I have a half helmet with an open face. I love the feel of the wind and sunshine. However, when riding on the interstate in the rain, each rain drop (hitting the face at 70 mph) feels like you have been shot with a BB gun. Slowing down helps only a little.
I now have a visor installed on my helmet that cuts down on the wind but also keeps the rain drops — and the bugs — from hitting my face with the force of a micro-meteorite.
As a child, I had a very healthy respect for lightning. While on a bike, with the lightning blasting all around, that healthy respect turned into a determined will to not be fried alive. I finally stopped at a Wendy’s, ate some chili, poured the water out of my boots, and watched the rain until it finally passed over.
On a positive note, I also discovered that my rain-proof travel bag that I bought at Great South Harley-Davidson in Newnan, Ga., turned out to really be rain proof. That was really a nice surprise as having dry clothes available was more valuable than food by the end of the day.
Would I do it again? You betcha. In fact, I did do it again, putting the lessons I learned to work. In nine months, partly thanks to high gas prices, I have logged about 8,000 miles on my 1999 Road King and have not grown tired of the riding experience at all.
I still have a lot to learn but I am making memories, having a few adventures, and embracing new experiences. Watch out for motorcycles, and I’ll see you on the road.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com.]