Gear for Ivan
Ivan hit the Philadelphia area last week-end with slight winds and rain. The rain was constant from a mild drizzle to a down pour on and off its course through the area. The rain started last Friday night and went through the night into Saturday and all during the day Saturday. Rainfall during that period ranged from 2" in the Bryn Mawr area (West of Philadelphia) to 5-6 inches North of here in the Quakertown area. This report reviews the gear that I wore riding nine hours on an 1100 S on that Saturday. Here I will examine the gear I wore, but for further details of this wonderful ride (I mean that!), please see the MOA OILHEAD site for general coments on my new 1000 S and MOA RIDES for comments on the 577 miles I have logged so far on the new bike.
I was on the road at 8:00 AM last Saturday for a ride up to Souderton, Pa to marshall a bicycle race ( I have been marshalling bike races for many years). I bought the 1100 S the Thursday before and, after just a few miles Thursday evening, was comfortable with the controls and looked forward to a serious shake-down cruise on the bike. Everyone in the area (everyone in the the whole world) knew that Ivan was going to be in this neck of the woods. I would get back home at 5:00 PM.
I want to start with the boots that I wore: BMW Contour boots. I have a pair of Daytona CF boots that I wear for scratching around back roads, but the Contour Boots are now my favorites. They are comfortable and after nine hours in the rain, my feet were dry. Need I say more? The boots really are a great all around boot and when it comes to rain, they just shed it off. During the bicycle race, if you're not necessarily out doing the marshalling, there is plenty of opportunity to just stand in water. Every street and every corner of every street had at least 4-6" of river running throught it and Ivan did not allow for any gentle misting. These boots were outstanding. On the way out to Souderton, on the turnpike (Blue Route to Northeast Ext.) I slipped on a pair of waterproof boot covers from EXIGENT, INC.. I picked these up from the manufacturer a week or two before at the Ephrata, PA VFW Riders Meet. He had a stand at the rally and as soon as I saw them I thought that was what I had been looking for all these years. A simple set of plastic booties fits right over your boots and keeps water off. Twelve dollars. They are perfect for stuffing into the side pocket of a bag. The fellow who made the booties told me not to walk in them - they are striclty for riding - and when I got to the race, knowing that I would be doing some walking around until the race got started, etc., I took them off. Two comments: the booties did a great job and since I spent the majority of the day wading through water in the BMW Contour boots and they keep my feet dry (that's right, when I got back home and took the boots off, my socks and feet were dry) that is further testimony to the BMW boots.
The rain suit I had on all day was the BMW 2-Piece Klinakomfort suit and it kept me dry. I have had one-piece suits and when I got the BMW rain gear I wasooking for something that was more than "all or none". A lot of times you might run into some mist that effects the lower part of your body (legs) and thus you need some pants. Sometimes you're riding and you take a break and (even though the skies are cloudy) you feel the need to shed a layer. A two piece suiot is what I wanted and the Klinakomfort kept me dry through Ivan. Wonderful suit.
I had the BMW Summer Rain gloves on and I really can't grade them. Here's why. During a bike race you might be in the race and you might be out. You might be talking to your chums and buddies. You might decide to try and find shelter somewhere (under a tree?). What's the first thing you take off when you park the bike and hoist it on it's center stand? Yeah, it's your gloves (I brought a cap, but most other marshals kept their helmets on to protect them from the rain). Once you take your gloves off, your hands get wet. You're going out again to do some marshalling because there's a break away? Put those gloves back on...and...your hands are wet. Repeat this a few times throughout the day and you can see why I cannot make any decisions about the BMW Summer Rain Gloves. Let me say this, however, they wick very well and that might be the key to evaluating rain gloves. What I mean is that as you slip your wet hand into the glove and think,"Gee, it's wet" that is not the whole story. What happens as you ride is that the air movement over the glove takes out a lot of the moisture. And you are comfortable.
That notion of "comfortableness" is not to be over looked. I have had enough bad rain gear to know that often the telling issue on a long ride (back to home, sweet home) is whether or not you are distracted from the task at hand: keeping your eye on the road and anticipating ANYTHING. A steady drip...drip...drip down the neck or a small stream of water crawling up your leg or the sudden realization that I'M SITTING IN A FRIGG'N OCEAN OF WATER moves your attention away from the job at hand and when conditions are bad that's a bad place to be. As for the gloves, let me say that I was comfortable with them. I appreciated their wicking effect and a better test would be to ride and ride and ride in the rain with them on without ever taking them off. Best rain gloves I have ever had so far, though.
A word or two about some of the other gear. I wore an Arai RX-7RR3 and that worked well. I note that a lot of the other marshalls like the Nolan N100E Flip-Up helmet. I have to look into that, although I see that Europe now has a BMW Carbon EVO IV helmet. Hhmmm. BTW, there is a new Nolam N101, also.
Personally speaking, I like cotton against this old bod. And before the cotton Tee-Shirt and cotton mid-thigh athletic shorts go on, I add some Gold Bond Powder here, there and everywhere including the feet. Just ordered some of those BMW (short) socks to try out, but on the ride last week-end I had on some silk mid-calf socks.
That leads me to something else and that is getting a feel for the bike. Quick shift: some Ice Hockey players will wear thin, shear, socks in their skates to get a more tactile feel, to get a better sense of what their feet are going. In that same light, when I'm squirrling around on back roads, I want lighter gear. If I know I'm going to be on a highway for some time, I want an enjoyable ride and I'm not looking for cut and thrust. I have found something that is cheap and easy to put on and off that can make a big difference: Neoprene Comfort Grip Wraps (your choice of black, red or blue) that should be sold at your nearest friendly dealer. These are like the old GRAB-ON bars but they come off and on easily with that copywrited product that I am not sure I can mention without being sued that sounds like FELCRO. Take 'em off and get your mitt on the bar for back road twists and turns, but strap 'em on for the highway to filter out the harshness.
Something else I always wear: an AIR-BELT manufactured by Safeguard Technologies, Leesport, PA. I had a bad moto accident many years ago that had as one of it's major causualties L2 and L3 herneation. I won't ride across the street without the belt.
Other thoughts. I am using an old Eclipse bag that has about 100,000 miles on it and is close to 30 years old. It was rebuild (free of charge) by Eclipse in the mid 80's when a zipper or two was errant.
Conclusion: BMW has some great gear. Don't be afraid to ride in the rain.