Or as I like to call it. How the wheels came off.
I woke that Wednesday morning to the sound of rain. Not heavy but steady. I’m not a big fan of rain but I’m from BC and I’m not made of sugar so I got my gear together and got myself prepped for the morning. The Exhibit didn’t open till ten in the morning so I decided to grab some breakfast. The GPS pointed me to a local restaurant that just happened to be down the road from the Mexican place I’d eaten at the night before. I should have seen the rain coming as I’d been hit by a short shower just after dinner. However my weather app showed no precipitation on the cloud cover over Bedford though there was some nasty looking stuff to the South. Of course I’d been hearing about a tropical storm that was bearing down on Florida but that’s such a common thing I let it slide. Of course it was playing the little engine that could with all the weather above it too.
After breakfast it began to rain with purpose by the time I got to the memorial, it was a downpour.
Now I don’t mind getting a bit wet but it does create issues for the camera. The 7D is pretty tough and it is somewhat weather proof but not waterproof and there was a ton of it falling from the sky. The outdoor observances had been moved indoor but to be honest I wasn’t too interested in standing in a corner with a growing puddle of water under my feet, so plan A was rapidly falling apart. Plan B to cover the actual memorial was a go but I had to get inventive. Using my ball cap as rain cover for the camera, I started to get what shots I could, always aware that rain on the filter could ruin everything. The only plus side was the memorial was pretty much deserted.
Pretty much soaked through I packed up my now sodden gear and headed back to the Motel. Once back on wireless, I could see the extent of the storm and it wasn’t good. Most of my area was in yellow and there were heavy green bands all around. Worse, there was another front moving in from the West so once the current cell moved on there was another stacked up behind it. My route home was a closing V of what looked like less rain but as I would find out would not be the case. I could wait till the following day to see if conditions improved but my gut was telling me to cut my losses and head North on the fast track and forget about exploring the middle of West Virginia this trip.
This was the right plan but I’m not the guy who gives up with out some amount of stubborn resolve. I’d planned to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway from just west of my position back up to the base of Skyline Drive and I wasn’t going to give up on that plan.
I should have totally given up on that plan. Warning one was the downed tree branch across the parkway at its base I had to skirt around. Once I was up at altitude, things got stupid quickly. The rain changed into a sort of suspended droplet cloud that I rode through. Visibility dropped to tens of feet and the temperature dropped. Every twist and turn became a rain slicked nightmare and my better sense of self preservation finally kicked in. I punched in the Go Home button on the GPS and it set up the fast route on the Interstates.
Of course you’ve got to ride through a lot of wild and woolly to get to the flat and speedy in West Virginia. Going up in altitude other than the drop in visibility isn’t bad, it’s the coming down the other side on narrow highways with lots of outside camber turns and diminishing radius inside turns that gets to you. Again I was thankful for the heated grips as the water had worked its way down the rain gear into the gloves. My arms were also a sodden mess. When I finally stopped for some lunch, I changed out of the one set of armor into my heavier jacket and thankfully I’d also packed my sealskins (gloves) in the pannier. The other good news was my leak repair on the right side pannier was still watertight the silicon and the duct tape were holding up well. My feet were also dry. The Alpinestar Gortex boots were working as advertised and just to be sure, I’d put on Gortex Gaiters as well. The rest of me might be miserable but my feet were going to stay dry.
I hate riding in the rain, well heavy and persistent rain. I hate the way it works its way into everything and makes the ride an endurance test but even riding through the stuff you’re still riding and that is not a bad thing.
I finally got off the road four hours later at Berkely Springs and began the task of drying out the soaked gear. Lucky for me the Hotel had a Restaurant right beside them, which was good. I was done riding for the day. Tomorrow had to be better right?