I like to be prepared for the worst, especially when I’m on the bike, and even more so on a multi-day road trip. In preparation for our Memorial Day weekend trip from Chicago to Maryland, I created a packing list. Packing for a trip on a motorcycle requires some planning. Each item a necessity. While I have 2 small saddlebags, and another travel bag that straps to my luggage rack, my space is still limited. So my packing list went something like this:
- Rain Gear
- Bike Cover
- Tool kit
- Phone charger
- 1 pair of jeans and socks
- 5 pairs of undies
- 4 t-shirts
- 1 pair of shorts
- Flip flops
- Small toiletry bag including:
- foldable toothbrush
- travel size toothpaste
- Wind Therapy conditioners
- Trail Mix
- Water Bottle
- Baseball cap
- 2 Bandanas
- Fingerless gloves
And then in addition to that, I was wearing:
- Leather jacket
- Leather chaps
- Warm socks
- Long sleeve shirt
- Medium weight gloves
Notice what is on the very top of my list? Yep. Rain suit. I always have my rain suit with me, even if we’re just out for the day. Even when it’s sunny. It lives inside my right side saddlebag. Always. Well...almost always.
Above: My rain suit rolls into itself to a compact ball and is tucked safely in my saddlebag
Day 1 of our trip was dry, partly sunny but chilly. All day we kept thinking we’d get out of our leathers, or at least out of our chaps, but it never really warmed up above the high 60s.
Day 2 it rained. All. Day. It started the previous night, but fortunately the hotel manager let us park in front under the overhang so in the morning our bikes were dry. Thank you Hampton Inn Youngstown!
At 6:00 am, a light mist was falling while we packed up our bikes. We put on our rain suits and rolled out. About 20-miles later the mist turned into rain. Another 90-miles down the road (still raining) we stopped at a rest area to refuel, ourselves and the bikes, and to warm up. The weather radar showed the storm was moving east at a pretty fast pace. We decided to hang at the rest area for a bit, hoping the storm would get ahead of us. It did, but only temporarily. We eventually caught up to it and it followed us all the way through Ohio, Pennsylvania and into Maryland just like that cloud of dirt over Peanuts character PigPen (am I dating myself here?).
320-wet, soggy miles later we got to our AirBnb apartment in Bethesda, Maryland, somewhat wilted and slightly damp, but basically pretty dry. I LOVE my rain gear!
Above: Happy to have arrived and that our bikes are under cover
I have to mention here that one of the reasons we chose to stay in an AirBnb apartment, were the “home-like” amenities like a washer and dryer. We knew this would come in handy since we were bringing very few clothes. More than once I said to my hubby “when we get to our apartment I’m washing everything”! Never had I been so excited about doing laundry (Domestic Goddess I am NOT).
Once inside we peeled off the layers and hung our rain gear and leathers to dry. I piled all of our clothes from the previous 2-days into the washer. Yay! Clean clothes here we come! Hold on. Not so fast. The dryer was not working. And because it was a holiday weekend, the soonest our AirBnb hosts could get someone in to fix it was Tuesday. This was Saturday. Our already limited wardrobe just got smaller.
Sunday was Rolling Thunder, one of the primary reasons we rode back east. We woke to a bright sunny sky, albeit slightly chilly. But the sun was shining and that meant we would be dry. We each had one pair of dry jeans, a dry t-shirt and pair of socks. Our leathers were mostly dry. As we rolled down to the Pentagon staging area our rain suits were still hanging in the closet.
Above: Pentagon North parking and a sea of bikes
We had a fantastic (and sunny) morning with old and new friends, enjoying the vibe, and the sun. Notice I keep referencing how SUNNY it was?
At about 11:30 am the clouds started to roll in. The forecast didn’t show any rain or storms until late afternoon, so surely we’d be OK until after the ride. Right? Not exactly. As the first rows of bikes started to roll out at noon, the rain started. At first it even felt good and cooling. We were in denial. “It’s just a passing shower” someone muttered (I could punch that guy). Evidently, the passing shower wasn’t passing quickly enough. In fact, the shower turned into rain. Real rain. Real, pouring down rain. But no worries, we’re prepared. We’re seasoned riders. We have our rain suits. Ummm, no. No we don’t. Our rain suits are hanging in our apartment. Yep.
Above: With my hubby and our friend Mark (who muttered "It's just a passing shower")
Our row of bikes rolled out at about 1:30, and it was still raining. Riding in close vicinity to other bikes, at a slow speed requires some focus and skill. Add rain into the mix and the experience is intense and potentially dangerous. The ride itself, takes only 20-minutes at a slow meandering pace. In that short amount of time, my leathers were completely drenched, and I was soaked through to my skin. And I couldn’t stop shivering and shaking.
We completed the ride, navigated our way up the GW Parkway, through bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Capitol Beltway and back to our apartment in Bethesda. As I stepped off my bike, I was shaking so badly I fell backwards into the street. It’s humorous now. Then, not so much. Inside, we once again peeled off our clothes and hung them to dry. By now, between the rain and the broken dryer, the only dry clothes were our PJs. Oh and our rain suits. Hanging in the closet.
After a long hot shower, I put on my PJs and wrapped up in a warm blanket with a cup of coffee. Ahhhh. At that point our plans to ride to my sister’s for dinner were out of the question. Instead, a local friend picked us up (and all of our wet clothes) and took us to her house to re-wash and dry everything. My sisters, brother-in-law and nephews brought dessert and we shared our sad, soggy, saga.
With clean and dry clothes restocked we were back on track. The rest of our trip remained relatively dry. We had some misting here and there but no major downpours. As with most things in my life, I learned my lesson the hard way. My rain suit is back inside my right saddlebag where it belongs and I will never leave home without it again.
Above: Even my "Just Ride" leather cuff bracelet stayed dry underneath my rain suit!