….into our lives from time to time. And sometimes, it’s a pounding, drenching, incessant rain. One that seems to never stop. In a rain suit that only makes matters worse. This was the case of my ride home that first trip to Mandello del Lario. And my first ride in “real” rain.
The long anticipated storm finally arrived Sunday morning. While the owner of the apartment was very nice, and told me I could stay another night free so I could return home Monday, extenuating circumstances prevented that option. So, I hung around as late as I dared on Sunday, hoping the rain would diminish, but by one o’clock when it was still falling steadily, I packed up the bike and headed home. That morning, I had bought some huge rubber kitchen gloves at the local supermarket, which I slipped over my riding gloves to keep them dry. And of course, I donned the infamous rain suit. The one I had purchased in San Diego years before. San Diego. Where it rains….NEVER.
At first it wasn’t that bad. Despite the lack of a wind screen, the suit seemed to be keeping me fairly dry, and just the wind-blocking property was enough to keep me warm. Despite the fact that I had little experience riding in rainy conditions, I knew enough to understand that you shouldn’t do anything “abruptly” while in them. Things like braking and changing lanes for instance. So I made sure to give myself extra distance and more time to find a way out of any situation, and soon found myself zipping along at 130 km an hour, feeling pretty comfortable.
In the rain is where you truly rejoice at the sight of every tunnel. There is momentary relief from the wind and the noise of the drops striking your helmet, plus a chance to wipe off your visor. It’s so nice you never want to leave! Then you are back outside again in the elements. After about an hour of riding, I began to feel cold. And I had a strange sensation. I felt as if I was sitting IN water. A kind of sloshing feeling around my rear. I told myself I was imagining things, and to just ride. Finally, after three hours I was getting too cold, and simply had to stop. So I pulled into the next Autogrill and stepped off my bike. It turned out that the suit I had been wearing was useless, except for holding the rain INSIDE the suit, next to my riding leathers. The last two hours had been like riding in a bathtub, fully clothed. Water had pooled at the seat area, and I was sitting in several inches of it. My leather riding suit was soaked, and there was simply nothing I could do.
The rain however, had begun to abate. So I went inside the cafe, and had a cappuccino. I received many an raised eyebrow at my bedraggled appearance, some were sympathetic. After, I folded up the rain suit, tucked it under the cargo net, and rode the remaining two and a half hours home. By the time I had reached Genoa, the sun was shining and there was a warm breeze blowing. Ninety minutes later my leathers were almost dry, and I arrived safely home. None the worse for wear, and with a story to tell.
Two days later, I was flattered to see myself featured in a “Women of Moto Guzzi” GIF that Moto Guzzi posted. I had no idea someone had taken my photo.
So far, a Moto Guzzi photographer has taken one of me every year, and I never see him do it.
The Open House Weekend at Mandello del Lario remains my favorite motorcycle event of the year. Period.