It can be tempting to hit the road as soon as the Alberta winter snow melts away. However, in early spring and well into the summer, rain can really dampen your plans! If you are a keen rider and you don’t want rain holding you back – take a look at how you can ride your motorcycle safely in Alberta, even when it rains.
Check your local weather channel and download their app to find out what is expected not only in your area but in areas you’ll be passing through on your ride. While you can’t always depend on weather forecasts, at least you’ll have an idea of what to expect. You can then either replan or time your trip better while also being prepared for the possibility you’ll get wet.
Invest in Rain Gear
Since rain is inevitable, it’s worth investing in good-quality motorcycle rain gear. When you encounter your first downpour, you’ll be glad you did. This should include boots, pants and a good jacket. This will keep you dry until you find somewhere to pull off until the rain lets up. Gloves are another good idea because even in hot summer, rain on your hands can get cold, making it easy for you to lose your grip.
Visibility is an important factor when choosing rain gear. While it might be tempting to go for fashionable black or gray, you should actually consider clothes with reflectors or bright stripes to increase your visibility when others are having trouble seeing the road. Many riders have discovered the joy of Gore-Tex or wool socks. Although your feet might still get wet, they will stay warm.
Especially for new riders, staying calm and focused is a must when you encounter rain. You need to keep your eyes on the road and try to ignore your stress and discomfort. Water creates a slippery surface even after the rain stops because cars will still continue to shed rainwater onto the roads. This can make driving conditions very dangerous. Remain focused and reduce your speed as you approach a slippery patch and adjust your distance with traffic. This will keep you safe if you have to stop suddenly.
There’s no reason to keep riding during a heavy, dangerous downpour. Keep your eyes peeled for a safe place to pull over and put on your rain gear if you’re not already wearing it. Be careful when pulling over as gravel and other uneven or soft surfaces can lead to disaster. Keep in mind that the rain increases risk.
It might be tempting to stop under an overpass but this puts you in more danger as this makes you less visible to drivers. It makes more sense to find a safe turn off and seek shelter at a se
cure location like a gas station or coffee shop. If you do have to choose an underpass, leave your lights on and keep your bike and body as far away from the road as possible.
Watch the Skies
When travelling, be sure to pay attention to the terrain and use it to your advantage. In wide open spaces for example you can keep your eyes on the skies ahead and watch for rain clouds. If it seems dark, you can pull over safely and then put on your rain gear.
However, in the mountains, you can get hit by microclimates with sudden changes in weather conditions. This can include not only rain but even snow. While it can be hard to spot these dangers, at least you know it’s possible.
Because it can be hard to figure what lies beneath puddles, it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. Of course, you don’t want to swerve dangerously to avoid them either. The safest thing to do is to keep your eyes on the road ahead so you can avoid what could prove to be a deep pothole.
Spot Slick Surfaces
As mentioned above, rain causes slippery surfaces. Some slicker surfaces to avoid include painted road lines, metal plates, manhole covers or tar repair jobs as all of these can make the surface even more perilous. Again, you don’t want to be swerving all over the road to avoid them but do try to avoid driving on them when possible. You can also be sure not to hard brake or accelerate but instead, maintain your speed to take them on without sudden changes.
Another tip is to take note of those rainbow temporary colorations on the road. These are signs of oil so again, watch out for slicker surfaces. These are not as common on highways when travelling but you are likely to encounter them at intersections where there are stop signs and lights.
Relax Your Body
It’s easy to tense up when you encounter foul weather. However, you can exhaust yourself when your body is tense. Try to keep your body relaxed so you can react better and also avoid experiencing cramps and aches.
Use a Coloured Visor
New helmet technology uses orange and yellow-tinted face shields to increase contrast when you are riding in poor visibility conditions. It’s also worth considering an anti-fog shield to help keep your vision clear. Some people even prefer goggles in wet weather because they help reduce the risk of fogging.
Take a Break
When riding in the rain your lap and crotch area can get totally drenched. This can make it very uncomfortable especially if you have a long ride ahead without a change of clothing. If you can, find a place to pull over and stand up once in a while to help avoid getting too soaked.
Anything you travel with on your ride is likely to get wet in heavy rain. A good idea is to store everything inside Ziploc bags even if you have them inside your storage area. This will ensure they stay dry.
Have Proper Motorcycle Insurance
While this should be a given, it makes sense to get a motorcycle insurance quote before you head out on the road. This way you can ensure you have the best possible coverage should the worst happen. Understanding motorcycle insurance costs also helps you choose the right coverage for your needs and budget.
If you would like information on motorcycle insurance, call Bow Valley Insurance at (403) 297-9400 or contact us here.
Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits shown on the policy.