It wasn’t until after my riding partner and I parted north of San Rafael that my luck ran out. Heading east from Napa over the familiar route 121/128 toward Winters, the climb out of the valley carried me under a cloud that was blacker than Simon Legree’s hat.
|(c) Missouri University of Science and Technology|
Oragraphic precipitation occurs when moist air is pushed up and over ridges of mountains. Figure that for every 1000 feet in elevation gain, the temperature drops about three degrees. Water droplets form around dust particles. Gravity pulls them earthward. But an uplift within the cloud grabs these tiny droplets and yanks them back skyward.
ABOUT THIS TIME, I come tooling along on the BMW. I’m wearing the proper gear for wet weather, but my thick, waterproof gloves fail to keep my digits nimble. And the layer of slushy ball bearings tends to counteract any tractable qualities of my relatively fresh Metzler Tourance tires.
In moments, the landscape turns white and the inside of my helmet fogs up. I crack the Shoei’s face shield a bit and the fog disappears, but I have to use the index finger of my clutch hand to wipe the sleet off the outside. I slow. The fellow in the Ford pickup I’d raced by only a mile or two back, is now just behind me. At the slightest wide spot, I let him pass. He must be laughing. The day before yesterday, I’d taken this at forty-five miles per hour in fourth; today I’m doing fifteen in first and second. There is no place to pull over and wait this thing out; no shelter from the squall. Twenty-five miles ahead is the Putah Creek Café which harbors hot coffee and closed about thirty minutes ago. I press on-ward thinking about the hot-buttered rum I shall concoct once I arrive home. If I arrive home.
As quickly as I entered it, I passed under and through it. The road turns from icy pebbles to wet pavement, then to dry. I’d outrun - well, out-crept - the storm.
Either I’ll read about him in tomorrow’s paper or his resolve is a hell of a lot steelier than my own.
Eric Trow’s Motorcycle Safety website: www.stayinsafe.com
Rider Magazine is published for folks who tend to keep both wheels on the ground. It is available at newsstands and by subscription: http://www.ridermagazine.com/
Church of the Open Road Press