Jun 19, 2007

Rain: only messing with you

Tourmaster Rain SuitIn the rain suit post (wow, that was a long one, eh?) I wrote about how rain is only water, right? Well, I decided I hadn't written enough (fancy that) about it. so here's more.

My first memory of the formative attitude to rain is reading The Dogs Of War by Frederick Forsythe. His protagonist mercenary, Cat Shannon was quite a character. But what got my attention was this piece in the beginning of the book where Forsythe is narrating why Shannon is nearly invisible and a god. Or something like that. The point I loved was where Forsythe/Shannon says that most people are uncomfortable with rain. It interferes with their sensory faculties, takes away their concentration and in that sense, makes them easy targets. To kill or to avoid. That, I think, was the last time I looked at rain as a disturbance. Sure, riding in the dry is properly great, but riding in the wet isn't far off.

Yes rain does add hurdles to your ride. It robs you of traction. But not by much. Clean surfaces can offer up to 80 per cent as much grip as fully dry. Really.

Just now, a novice was complaining about how his bike slips and slides in the rain. Yes, but the nub of what he said was that he hates the rain. You can never do well what you already hate in your heart. No matter how hard you try. And what is hate but an attitude you develop towards something. If you developed it, you can change it.

Try this the next time you're not looking forward to riding in the rain. Just one thing. Take your time doing things. Simple. Don't hurry. Just take your time. Open the throttle like you have time to spare, close it like you have time to spare. Use the brakes like that too. Take lazy lines. Just generally hang about a bit. Give it ten minutes and you'll find yourself going faster than you normally do when you're taut, strung, death-gripped an inch from having a very wet coronary.

The other trick, more dramatic of course, is to find a clean, wet, straight road. Once you ensure that there isn't much traffic to interfere with you, go as fast as you can in a straight line. It's very liberating, when you find that bike doesn't spin up, doesn't misbehave and generally feels not that different from the dry world. Perhaps the greatest danger to you on the wet is your plodding along at 50 per cent of your normal pace when the cagers have only slowed by 15 per cent. I've tried both the approaches, and I love them both as well. So now I do either when I find the space and time for the sheer heck of it.


Julian Paul said...

completely agree on clean (wet) roads providing sometimes better levels of grip than dry (dirty) roads. i remember when my rd was running on the old stock, spec tyres and was slipping and sliding all over the place. changed to a tvs att200 (or 250) 3" front and a cbz dunlop 100/90 rear. and i was pushing it harder than i'd even done before. on wet roads. roundabouts. it just wouldn't give. (this was 6 months into the rd ownership experience).

yes, the rains in bombay are a pain when you wanna commute and stuff. but it's some of the best biking weather you can have.

Bunny Punia said...

My first time in Mumbai's rains on a bike,getting used to it. Yep, you are right, its mostly all in the head. If you know to control your right wrist and fingers (accelerate and brake), the traction wont be a big issue. I still take the same time to reach Mahim from Nerul in the rains!

One thing that is frustating though is the water coming off the heavy vehicles' tyres.

Any idea of a good shop selling waterproof riding shoes/boots in Mumbai (Reasonably priced ones)