Rides in bad weather...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports & Photos' started by Bob, May 22, 2020.

  1. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    [​IMG] upload_2020-5-22_10-0-52.jpeg

    It was May 24, 1970, I was 19 and I'd been invited to visit some friends in Stephenville for the long weekend. I went on my BSA 500cc Royal Star ( internet pic above) It was my third bike, bought new, and had about 10,000 miles on it at that time.
    I left Clarenville after work on Friday. Friends told me Stephenville was "...about seven or eight hours..." from Clarenville. And to call when I got there and they'd come find me. No prob. I threw a change of clothes in a knapsack and lashed my Black Diamond rubber gear on the rear as an after thought. ATGATT in those days was open face helmet, goggles, leather jacket, jeans, work boots and leather gloves.
    I was stoked! Hadn't ridden west to Terra Nova Park until then. I gassed up in Gander and it started raining. It got a bit chilly so I'd stop now and then to warm my hands on the motor. By Benton it was dark and wet snowflakes were showing up in the headlights. I stopped to rubber up, warm my hands, top up the tank and have a smoke. By now I'd started to get 'a feeling' but was too stunned to know what that feeling was or what to do about it. That would take a few more rides.
    Instead I tried to think ahead, I could gas up in Grand Falls but would I find gas open in Springdale or maybe Baie Verte Junction? What was after that? Could I make it fro Baie Verte Junction to Deer Lake on a tank? How far was that? I was working in a service station but never thought to bring a road map. Not like I was going to get lost...
    I began to realize I was a little fuzzy on the geography though, and riding in wet snow at night was a little disorienting. The highway signs were getting snowed over and stopping to clear them off for a look was tricky as the bike kept slipping around. This was not what I'd expected as it had been warm all week. I wasn't really sure when the gas stations closed.
    Well before Springdale I was riding on the shoulder in a couple inches of snow trying to average 30 mph. It was after 10:00pm, the snow hadn't let up, I was wet from neck to crotch and fingers to armpits. My teeth were chattering so hard my glasses were bouncing around. I didn't know anything about hypothermia. My goggles had iced up and were protecting my mouth and chin. I'd never seen a full face motorcycle helmet.
    There wasn't any traffic or tire tracks but I could 'feel' the shoulder through the snow and it had more traction than the pavement. Plus the shoulder kept me from wandering all over the road which would be bad if something came along.
    I don't know how long the cruiser was behind me as my hands were too cold to clean off the mirrors. He finally got my attention by pulling alongside me and lit up his roof. We both eased slowly to a stop and I kept the bike upright. I was informed that everything was closed up ahead but there might be a room at 'The Burntberry' which was "...not too far..." The officer wanted me to leave my bike on the side of the road and hop in the nice warm patrol car. I had visions of what a snowplow could do to the bike and convinced the officer I could ride on. He lead the way at about 30mph and I tried to ride in his tracks which were nice and deep and seemed to help the bike track a little better.
    Thankfully there was no other traffic and I could concentrate on staying the right distance behind him as stopping suddenly was not going to happen. I didn't think we'd ever get to The Burntberry but we eventually did. My steel nosed work boots helped me keep her upright until I finally stopped in the parking lot.
    The officer left with my humble thanks and solemn promise not to continue until the roads cleared because there was "... more snow higher up..."
    I didn't break water until checkout the following morning, but by then my clothes were dry, the roads had clear wet black tracks between the slush ridges and my wallet was considerably lighter. Temps were in the fifties by Deer Lake and the roads were dry and it was warm and windy by Corner Brook. I called my friends from the Dhoon Lodge late afternoon where we commenced the weekend's entertainment.
    Had a great visit, spent a couple hours on the runway at the base, took ride out around St. Georges and out to the Codroy Valley. Great trip and all new to me at that time. Had an excellent ride home that Monday.
    Hope you'll post up if you've had a ride in bad weather.
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  2. skibum69

    skibum69 Well-Known Member

    I've managed to dodge it being quite that bad.
    Bob likes this.
  3. HunterSon

    HunterSon Active Member

    Thanks for sharing Bob!
    Bob likes this.
  4. murph

    murph Well-Known Member

    I was an inexperienced rider on my first bike. Never rode anything before I had bought it and figured it out on Water Street the day of purchase. A couple of weeks later I might have had a permit when I took a lovely lady out on a date. I knew it was cold so told her to dress warm when I picked her up. Probably my first time with a passenger. After the movie and a beer at the Avalon mall we went out and the bike was white. Well shit.
    A smart man would have sent her home in a taxi but I had never been accused of it up to this point so after we cleared the seats off we went. She was blissfully unaware that a bike handled poorly in snow but I figured it out before I got out of the parking lot. I kept it upright but knew it was inevitable if we kept going to her house as she was a buxum lass up high on the passenger perch. I ended up at the closest address and borrowing my moms car to bring the poor girl home. Turned out OK.
    Bob likes this.
  5. townieglenn

    townieglenn Member

    This one time, while working in Gander for a couple of months , I decided to take the Red Indian Lake road to Burgeo and back on the TCH for an over night adventure. Had my first real set of Knobby tires installed on the F650 at a bike shop in Gander during the week.( the traction ! the braking ! so much control ! wow) The notorious Paul Mitcheltree had picked up the bike for me while I was working ..he had been touring NL (Fogo) on his R100 when his rear shock collapsed and shared my hotel room for a couple of days while repairs were made to his bike . Sat morning , my bike was parked outside and Tree was long gone being an early riser..he also wasn't aware that the local bike shop had pinched the rear tube when he rode it 3 kms to the hotel..so I lost half a day ( and some of my temper ) but they fixed it and I was on the road around lunch time..started to rain shortly after that. Rained on me for the rest of the story . Rode the RIL road in peanut butter mud but I slowly made it to Burgeo ..no idea how long it took - just about dark when i found the gas station . Only regular gas to be had in Burgeo back then and I haven't been back since..
    This is when the little sticker on my tank that says 95 ROZ 85 MOZ becomes a real issue.. the bike will burn lower octane but just barely. top speed was around 50 kms/h but I rode well into the night and heavy rain til I made Grand Falls and slept on the ground in my wet gear and helmet ( not the first time ) under the large over hanging eaves of some shuttered tourist hut or restaurant til the nearest gas station opened and then shivered uncontrollably till I reached Gander once more and then cried myself to sleep but showed up at work Monday on time.. Would do it all again

    Other tales of suffering in this series
    - riding to Halifax ( St John's - Port aux Basques) in early March..warmest it got was minus 2.. Made it to work on time
    - missing the last boat at Argentia by 30 mins and riding across Island unprepared (rain and sleet in Oct ) ..Made it to work on time but still wearing riding gear
    - riding back from Montreal in the rain for 3 days with a failing voltage regulator .. more sleeping in the ditch in my helmet
    - Lance aux Meadows to Gander - snow squalls and no sympathy for a guy pushing a dead bike with NS plates

    You might also like
    - running out of gas in stupid places
    - being utterly lost and cold and confused
    - hopelessly stuck in the woods
    - flat tires
    Bob likes this.
  6. RossKean

    RossKean Active Member

    Nothing as epic as some of these tales but hypothermia has come close to getting me a few times. Once you finally get to where you can stop and get warm/dry to realize how easily you might have lost it completely. Judgement goes out the window as body core temperature drops.
    Bob likes this.
  7. skibum69

    skibum69 Well-Known Member

    Remember when your bike died on the T'Railway not knowing we were on a totally different railbed? You've pushed that F650 a lot.
  8. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    Unfortunately I have "an embarrassment of riches" in that regard HunterSon:rolleyes:
  9. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    Excellent rides and teasers for future Episodes twonieglenn! Subscribed!
    Is there a theme emerging here about the shoulder seasons of riding, and our lives? This could be better than Netflix if you have a mind...
  10. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    "...but hypothermia has come close to getting me a few times."
    Anything you'd care to share about this RossKean?
  11. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    Well Mike... didn't you manage to collapse a vertebrae riding? Maybe weather wasn't a factor but I'm thinking suffering ensued...?
  12. Jim C-G

    Jim C-G Active Member

    The cold and wet... have not had to run in deep snow but I've done a few in slush. I've been caught in a hurricane. I've been in torrential rain. (a few times lol)
    I've watch my son floating, asleep on his air mattress in the tent in 4" of water. I was too heavy to float, i.e. why I woke at 5 am. Hate packing a bike in the rain.
    One day of bad weather, you get them, but 3 or 4 days of rain and cold can get almost break you.
  13. RossKean

    RossKean Active Member

    There have been a few times when I got so cold and wet that it was all I could do to unclench my hands from the grips and remember to take my foot of the peg coming to a stop. I have been in situations that required literally a couple of hours to restore body core temperature and stop shivering. Easy to get confused and judgement goes out the window. You haven't been cold until you have been cold on a motorcycle!

    The worst/best was a trip I took ten years ago. Cross continent and starting off with hot weather in NB in late June. That heat ended in Ottawa and it was unseasonably cold all the way to the west coast and most of the way back through the northern states; especially in the mountains (got HOT again in upstate New York). I was poorly dressed for the ride - mesh jacket!! I did have the thermal liner and rain liner but nowhere near warm enough - even with a couple extra layers underneath. I was wearing jeans but ended out wearing rain pants on top as a windbreaking layer. The jacket was short waisted so I had to use an elastic bungee cord as a belt to keep cold air out. I hit snow flurries in Jasper and significant snow in Yellowstone. A memorable trip and some lessons learned. Don't trust long-term forecasts. Bring warm enough clothing, especially if riding in the mountains. If planning to camp along the way, make sure the weather will work for you and make reservations at least a day out. - I ended out with most nights in motels due to lack of planning and weather. A few pictures of that trip...

    I was so cold through Jasper/Banff that I did not stop for a photo until the very end of the trip but got a good one! Took me an hour to get warm enough to get moving again.


    Logan Pass in Glacier National Park - cold and very wet. This was around July 5 and it had just opened up for the season!

    Entrance to Yellowstone - Note the mesh jacket, rainpants and bungee belt.

    Rest stop coming out of Yellowstone
    Beartooth Highway was on the agenda but was closed due to snow and freezing rain the night before

    Bob likes this.
  14. Trash

    Trash Well-Known Member

    My lovely Wife and I had just ordered dinner at a restaurant in the North Woods year’s before we made it our home.
    Right before our dinners were served, one could faintly hear the Tornado Siren begin to wail in Minocqua, about 3 miles away. The Owner of the establishment quickly ran from table to table, telling all the patrons to leave immediately, as there was no basement to shelter in. As we hurried out to our transport of the era, a 1979 Yamaha XS11, it was windy as hell, and we were able to hear that legendary freight train roar of a tornado coming right at us from the west.

    I believe we were going about 120 mph as we entered town, and then the real fun began. I had to make a right turn in order to head to our motel on the South Side of town. The wind from the Tornado was so fierce, and the bike was on such a severe angle, that my right foot peg was dragging on the ground as we rode through town. Luckily the wind abated as the Tornado stayed on its westward path, and by the time we got to the motel, it was eerily calm.

    I imagine that had we been about two minutes later getting out of that restaurant, I might not be here to tell the story.
    Ironically, that is only one of the five tornadoes I have encountered over the years, but definitely the closest call.
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  15. skibum69

    skibum69 Well-Known Member

    Yes I did compress my spine on a bike but the weather was lovely. I recall a few unpleasant weather days...
    Bob likes this.
  16. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    Thank you Jim! 'Liked' and 'subscribed' to your you tube channel as usual. Looks like you topped out elevation wise around minute 8:00.
    Riding in "... 3 or 4 days of rain and cold ..." is a sufferfest for sure:(
  17. murph

    murph Well-Known Member

    We have all ridden in it from showers to RDF to heavy downpours but coming back from Ottawa 2 years ago was the worst I had done.
    Mismatched tires from a blowout on the north shore of Quebec so I had a Tourance front and a knobby Kenda on the rear.
    I was coming from a wet pitstop in Fredericton where I had seen the radar shot was running a big cell right along the highway to Moncton. I donned my gear and set off in it but then it got heavier and heavier. Traffic was slowing and cars were hauling off to the side of the road which had a flowing brook in the lanes. At the occasional cross road and underpasses the streetlights had come on. The cars and trucks around me had on flashers and I was down to first gear just able to see the cars taillights ahead of me. Lightning and the crash of thunder immediately after it was causing me to duck every flash. The wind was very high and then there were branches and roadsigns on the pavement swirling. There was no place to get to and I was taller in the saddle on the GSA than any of the cars around me. The heaviest rain I had ever seen in my lifetime. It took a couple of hours and was exhausting.
    I came out of it just before Moncton so I grabbed a coffee there to destress and wring out then watched the front roll over me again. Saddled up, rode through it again and when I came out of it I headed to PEI to set up a tent in a strangers yard. It happened again as I was breaking camp in the morning so I waited for 3-4 hrs before rolling out and rode through it again in Nova Scotia. First gear, all traffic with flashers on, two lane river riding but it was only for 40 minutes this time as I headed for the boat.
    Remind me again why we do this fun activity.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  18. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    "Remind me again why we do this fun activity."

    "Because you learn a thing carrying a cat by the tail that you can learn in no other way." Mark Twain

    Thanks for the tale Murph! Looks like you enjoy a little camping with your storm chasing:D
  19. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    Now you're talking RossKean! I've been able to ride a lot out West since 2013 so I recognize most of those areas. Still so much left to ride tho...

    We should sit down with our hard drives and swap lies over a few cold ones some day:D Thank you!
    RossKean likes this.
  20. Bob

    Bob Active Member

    OK. Time to fess up... :cool:

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