Wednesday, April 7

Rain Riding and the BMW Mileage Contest Results!

The weather has been ride-perfect for the last week or so. This week, the week I'm taking off from one of my jobs, the weather has been cold(er), rainy and quite windy. I couldn't care less! I've taken to the road as much as time allows! Riding in the cold rain is better than no riding at all.

My Easter Sunday ride promised to be a nice one but ended up mostly in the rain. I left the house so optimistic that the weather would clear up, I failed to pack the rain gear, which really is optional when wearing my preferred jacket. My Fieldsheer Adventure jacket is water proof and kept my body dry, but when the exterior got drenched it led to feeling chilled, which never really went away--my fault for not taking the time to put the wind/rain liner in the jacket. Thank goodness for heated grips.

Stopped at a gas station to put air into the tires and accidentally overinflated the tires. It was a crappy air system and it registered amounts that were inconsistent with my old fashion air gauge. When I tried to take some of the air out, it was always too much and then I'd inflate again and go over. Ugh! Eventually, I just left it several pounds over-inflated. I learned that this is not good. For those of you out there who know more about this sort of thing than I do, tell me if my logic makes sense.

I'm assuming that an overinflated tired can be pretty dang bad on wet pavement. It seems to me that over inflation means that there is less rubber on the road, that the contact patch will be smaller, which could lead to less grip and even more slippage than one would encounter if the tires were inflated properly. This all makes sense to me but I'm going strictly on feel. When the rain came and it came fast and furiously at first, there was no shoulder on which to pull off so I continued on. I've ridden in many rain storms, some that produced a religious re-awakening in me--if you know what I mean.

The Easter rain was heavy and as I rode down two lane roads, with speed limits of 45-55 mph, I experienced a lot of slippage of the back tire--at least that's where I felt it most. This sliding around was definitely over and above the normal slippery feeling that is common in the early stages of riding on wet roads. It was a bit spooky at first but when I adjusted my riding accordingly, I was able to ride until I found a pull off place. Throughout the rest of the ride I experienced many breath-taking moments on the road.

So, is my theory correct about the over-inflated tires, smaller contact patch, etc.? (Yes, now home, the correction has been implemented).

I road most of the day and night in on and off again rain. In the dark of night, the lightening flashes forced me to take refuge at my mother's house. She put my jacket and gloves in the dryer and that warmth was pure joy. The rain didn't stop so after an hour of visiting, I headed out again when the rain seemed lighter. Within 5 minutes on the road, the dark skies opened again. It was after 10pm; I made it home around 11pm, chilled to the bone with prayers answered. Other than being a tad cold, I ended the day with no complaints about my wet day on two wheels.


Well, guess who made it among the top 25 women mileage contest winners?! I think I was 19th. And, guess who did extremely well among the 89 Illinois finishers! I think I was 15ish? I say "think" because once again I didn't receive my April issue of the BMW MOA magazine! So, I'm writing the place positions from what I recall reading in Dave's magazine.

In print, I am short of my mileage goals because I rode two other motorcycles during ride season and couldn't count the miles on those bikes. This time, I'm adding the BMW F650GS to the contest since I'm going to be babysitting it until June. I have bigger mileage goals this year. Still, the ultimate goal is lots of long, safe miles of smile.

I'm a sucker for contests of this sort because you compete against yourself. You have no idea what others are doing. It's about doing your own thing. Setting goals and figuring out how to accomplish it. I like that it's no fuss, no muss. Just enter, ride and report your certified miles.

Today is dark, dreary, rainy and cold.

They say it might clear up. I'm waiting...


Unknown said...


Ride Safe, that's the motto. I believe that you are better to be slightly underinflated than overinflated, and in the cool air and rain there would not be any problems with tires overheating as would be the case during the summer. You need the tire to "flex" and maintain contact with the road. Higher PSI would minimize the flex and cause more slippage. It would also have affected stopping as when the tires "load up" it creates a larger footprint for grippage, or in your case, slippage

as for mileage endurance, in my mind I think that they would prove to be unsafe in many instances, as it forces you to continue on when you should really stop . . . or to ride when you have doubts. I used to be a long distance "driver". I would think nothing of hopping into the car in Vancouver and step out in San Francisco stopping only for gas/relief and perhaps a hamburger on the run. I have driven across Canada, by myself. I now prefer the slow route and stop for photos at every opportunity. I appreciate and contratulate you on your accomplishments and endurance and wish you safe riding.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

ps: I have to send you an eMail soon regarding Redmond, OR

Geoff James said...

Magnificent writing and stunning photographs! Congrats on a superb blog.

Geoff James
New Zealand

Chris said...

Sharon, like Bob said in the rain and cold under is much better than over inflated. When it is under inflated more tire on the road. When I ride off-road I typically lower my tire pressures to 12-15psi to get more rubber in contact with the ground.

Good luck on your miles. I'm hoping to break 15k this year. I just missed it in 2009. No ironbutts for me, just lots of regular riding. :)

David E.B. Smith said...

Good job on the miles, even though you beat me by 2000. :)

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

bobskoot, thanks very much for the info on the tires! That's sort of what I was thinking but couldn't articulate. It makes sense.

Re: mileage endurance. "it forces you to continue on when you should really stop..." Perhaps that is true for some people but nothing forces me on but my own shortcomings. Since I have no death wish I'm pretty good about doing what's best for me.

The BMW mileage contest is a challenge that is done on one's own. There's no clock telling you to move on. As for the Iron Butts...I love them because I do them solo. There is absolutely no pressure on me to finish. If I decide to stop in the middle and call it a day I will. My husband thinks Iron Butts are "dangerous" and I tell him all the time, for him, they are! He should never do one with that kind of thinking.

I think folks have to decide for themselves how to manage these things or if they are going to participate in them. I'm just not the type that can be forced to do anything. I think some people are more proned to endure mileage they are not ready for or shouldn't be doing when they are feeling the pressure of group riding (IMHO)--even small group riding. I recall studying collective behavior in school and how the individual's values, behavior, wishes, etc., get subsumed by the group. Talk about forgetting the self and going with the flow...that's when on can feel "forced" to do more than they should. But I get your point.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Geoff James from New Zealand, thank you very much for dropping by and your very kind comments. I appreciate that. Come and visit again!


Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Chris, thanks for your comments on the tire issue. This makes sense to me now and what you've said about lowering the pressure in your bike, reminds me of a desert ride I went on in the Middle East. These huge Toyota Land cruiser vehicle drivers would deflate their tires before zooming through the desert loaded up with a bunch of crazy Americans. It was the low tire pressure that allowed them to ride and and down those sand dunes scaring the heck out of us!

Good luck on your mileage.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks David E.B. Smith! Hey, at least we were in the same ballpark.

I topped my spouse by more than 10,000!! I'm going to try not to rub that in... ;-) He sort of had an excuse (knee replacement) but still...

Anonymous said...


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

There is nothing more aggravating than trying to get the precise amount of air in a tire — using a simple tire pressure gauge and a gas station air pump (that most often requires quarters to gt it going).

Do yourself a big favor and look into the EZ Tire Pressure gauge.

The hose clamps onto the valve stem and you get a clear, accurate reading of the tire pressure. (If the valve stem is at the 12 O'clock position, you do not have to even kneel.) Need to add air? The airhose connects to gauge! Pump away. Take away the compressor fitting and check the reading. Bleeding excess air out is a snap with the button on the gauge.

I love these, and they are a great way to deal with valve stems shoved between two brake rotors.

Fondest regfards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Anonymous said...

Hey Sharon! I like contests like that too. No fuss, no muss, and setting your own goals. Perfect. I used to ride on the back of my dad's motorcycle with my hair flying in the wind and I loved it more than anything. I miss those days alot. I look forward to reading more about your adventures on the road!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Jack, THANKS!! I think you've mentioned this before. It is on the way. Saves a lot of aggravation. Take care, friend!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks, Roni

That feeling you describe is unforgettable, isn't it?! I too am looking forward to my adventures. Taking a med at the moment that is definitely interferring and more than a tad frustrating. But where there's a will, there's a way. ;-)

Anonymous said...


irondad said...

On the other hand, tire tread is designed to channel water out from underneath at the given tire pressures. Running a lower pressure might give more rubber on the road, but it also traps more water underneath. Racing slicks put a tremendous amount of rubber on the road but you obviously can't run them in the rain.

Best bet is to run recommended pressures. If wet weather grip is a factor, buy tires with more silica in the compound.

For the mileage thing: It's always good to test and challenge oneself short of becoming reckless. I congratulate and respect you for desiring to do so.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Irondad, I agree best to run what's recommended. When I err on putting air in, I need a way to get it out so that I am accurate. I think Jack's recommendation will help as I shouldn't rely on gas stations to have working equipment.

Thanks for the info on tire pressuer and surfaces, especially wet surfaces.

Thanks also for the kind words on the mileage; your blog serves as an important safety reminder!