Motorcycle Lizards Unite! (Part I)

Motorcycle LizardHOW CAN WE BE HUMBLE?

We are the fastest racers alive on the fastest two-wheeled rocket ships in the galaxy. We need to lean on our brakes to let lightning bolts catch up so we can grab them, give them a twist, and re-launch them into the sky in the shape of a Lizard “Z.”

Well…maybe some of us are not THE fastest racers alive, but we certainly ride the fastest bikes.

Well…maybe for some of us, we are not quite riding the FASTEST bikes, but we definitely ride!

And…well…maybe some of us are not actually real, bona fide, smiling-for-the-TV-camera kind of “racers,” but we do arrive to work faster than our bus-riding neighbors.

And…well…maybe we don’t really catch lightning bolts, but we have ridden in rain, thunderstorms and torrential downpours all over North America. And perhaps, a few of us have even ridden through…a hurricane?

So who are “we?”

We are the Confederation of Motorcycle Lizards who ride through any manner of wet weather.

So you know one thing’s for sure…we definitely ride. And we ride lots of different bikes. And this tale regards a multi-state race with Hurricane Arlene a few years ago (which preceded its more famous big sister, Ms. Katrina).

But if you are a little wiser than a rain-drenched lizard, you wouldn’t partake of such an endeavor. But we ain’t talkin’ about no rain-drenched lizards! (We ride with rain gear).

So picture yourself in Tampa, Florida, having enjoyed a ride from Los Angeles a week earlier. One day before departure back to the left coast, you check in with Mr. Weatherman in light of the 40-pound raindrops banging on your door only to find him yelling, “Yo! Lizard Breath! Change your riding plans! We are gonna beat this part of the country with the first hurricane of what’s gonna be a whoppin’ season.”

Hmmmmm. So what would you do?

Well…if you are a little wiser than a lizard, or a little less adventurous, you would change your riding plans and stay in Tampa longer while the Sunshine State gets battered for a few days.

Now let’s switch gears and suppose you are a lizard that doesn’t mind a little research. And let’s suppose you learn the speed, path and landfall (east of Louisiana) of this storm. And let’s suppose your lizard-brain figures there’s a chance you can beat this blustery puppy churning away in the Gulf of Mexico by racing around the coast: up through Florida, across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, with the ultimate sunshine payoff west of the hurricane path.

Are you game for a hurricane race? (Those wiser than a wet lizard say “No.”) As for the rest of us…well…we’ve been warned.

With our gear plastic-sealed and ensconced in hard saddlebags and with ourselves in wet-weather riding apparel, the Lizardmen leap off into the late afternoon of 40-pound rain drops (at least there isn’t much wind to speak of…yet).

We take the lead a few hours into the race with our first good news: The rain settles down half-way up the coast from Tampa.

Better news: We make it into the Florida Panhandle late in the evening. Now the game plan is simple – we just ride all night and pass well in advance of Arlene’s landfall tomorrow for an easy victory!

Bad news: This particular lizard is fully tuckered out. It’s time for a pit stop in a warm motel.

More bad news: Even with an early departure tomorrow, we are going to become pretty intimate with the current landfall projection. Read Motorcycle Lizards Unite! (PART II)

13 thoughts on “Motorcycle Lizards Unite! (Part I)

  • Fear not. I have been ridding for 30 years in Buffalo NY. Rain is no deterent but then I also ride in the snow on ocassion. Dress for the cold. Heated jackets like Gerbing are the cat,s meow. Have fun and were the bad weather like a badge of corrage.

  • I am back into riding after a 30 year lay-off. Can’t quite figure out why it took so long to start riding again. I guess the gas prices were just getting too ridiculous. Anyway, when I finally picked up an affordable used bike I jumped into riding big time, mostly commuting. I live in east Tennessee and it gets pretty cold here in the winter, but I persevered. I rode whenever I could, however I avoided riding in the rain. It was last week when I had my first encounter and I couldn’t be more proud that after a little thought and reasoning with myself and the realization that the rain was not going to stop anytime soon, I donned my rain suit and went for it. I still have a lot of learning and experience to gain but I will not shy away from riding in the wet stuff!

  • I never considered myself to be a lizard. I do flirt with the weather regularly. I live in Buffalo and ride my BMW year round. 20 deg is my limit for cold. I have ridden on packed snow on several occasions. Last fall I was ridding all weekend with Retro Tours outside of Philadelfia. Hurricanes Sandy could be seen most of the weekend on the horizon. I left Phily around Sandy making landfall. As I left for Buffalo , a 7 hr track (after ridding with retro tours for 12 hrs earlier in the day). The lineman repair trucks were lined up in the opposing lanes of the expressway, waiting to go into the storm. For 1 hr I raced away from Sandy in some of the heaviest rain I have ever experienced. The next 6 hrs were uneventfull now that Sandy was in the rear view mirror. This may qualify me as a lizard? Either way the weather does not keep me of the road.

  • You guys are BRAVE souls! I got caught in the cold rain and hail last week and thought myself quite heroic for making it home w/o mishap. Ha ha. I prayed the whole way. (Oh God, please help me make this turn, Oh God, I can’t see, Oh God, make the hail stop, etc.)
    When I got home I was soaked through to the underwear. I have learned ONE thing: pack rain gear!

  • With few exceptions, riding in rain (or snow) or high wind conditions is anathema to me, even with a full fairing and windshield to tuck in behind when a sudden rainstorm occurs. If I were to guess, I would say that the risk of an accident increases by a factor of 10 or more in the rain, perhaps less so if one proceeds at a crawl. Nevertheless, even a careful cyclist is more likely to be run down by an automobile in such inclement conditions. My philosophy is, “Wet road – four wheels”.

  • ha..ha… the madness; reminds me of those deep monsoon evenings when its pouring too heavy for even the colleagues who come in buses or cages to leave the office & hence flocking the veranda; out comes me on my bullet motorcycle with just a mm of rain wear between me & the shower. Well, rain riding is like an intoxication, sure it is. Those who have done it & still do it will agree. It’s unsafe, it’s dangerous, but don’t we love motorcycling for those words ? Yeah……………lizards !!

  • A couple of years ago me and my buddies, the “Old HOGS” took a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina. The end of our ride south took us on the famous “Tail of the Dragon” in Deal’s Gap, Tenn. Quite an experience.

    On our way back the next day we hit torrential rains that would not quit. It was good for North Carolina and Virginia because they’d been suffering through a three month drought. Not so goo for me. My H-D rainsuit performed well, but my boots and gloves were not waterproof. I have that equipment now. One very good thing to have onboard is Rainex and some paper towels from your kitchen sink. Rainex applied to both sides of your face shield and buffed dry will bead up rain, so your vision is clear. I think it also limits fogging. I keep that stuff in the bag with my rain gear.

  • In the summer of ’78…. ABATE of Florida was holding it’s annual party over in Crystal River Fl. That’s on the west coast of the state, I lived on the East. I had been looking forward to this party for a year. I went to my first party there the year before, it was such a blast! Impromptu hill climbs (the party was being held on the property of an abandoned mineral mining company, the bottom of the hill was actually a very deep water hole…some bikes didn’t “make it”) A hurricane decided to turn into Florida about 75 miles north of where this party was being held. My friends and I were already on the way across the state. It rained those huge 40 pound rain drops your talking about from Lakeland to Crystal River. We arrived at the party site with our friends to find a small hearty band of bikers who went out and rented a 20 FT U-Haul truck and bought a huge tarp. They somehow attached the tarp to the top of the truck and then to surrounding trees, and then built a fire below the tarp. We had a hurricane party instead of an ABATE party. The weekend was WET…but not blown! So…I’ve even ridden in hurricane winds to be somewhere…and THAT scared me stupid. I’d forgotten this little story until you brought it up! THANKS! Your writing is inspirational and I enjoyed your tale!

  • Rode my Kawasaki KLR 650 to work on a nice Friday morning. Joshua Tree, CA to City of Industry. Normally, with lane splitting once you get to Los Angeles County, it’s a little over 2 hour ride. Driving a truck all day, when I get back to Industry, it’s raining hard, and it’s 6 p.m. Friday. Leaving Los Angeles. In a serious rainstorm. I know this is going to be ugly, but what am I going to do? Put on my raingear, with the gloves that say “waterproof” across the back of them. They lied. I’m splitting lanes in the rain for over an hour, since traffic is stopped cold. My hands are very wet and very cold, but the rest of me is ok.

    I finally break out of the traffic after a couple of hours, and I’ve got it set at 70, getting home before I freeze. Or so I thought. The bike sputters to a stop in the center divider, under a bridge. At least it was under the bridge. She won’t restart for about 15 minutes or so. I guess there was condensation under the tank around the electrical system. So I’m back at 70, heading east on I-10, then north on Hwy 62. The wind turns into a tailwind, so that’s nice.

    Just as I start up the first long grade on 62, I see the Highway Patrol showing up to close the road. But I slipped by before they noticed me, and started the grade. The reason for the closure? Snow. Nice. Actually, it’s kind of slushy, and the spray of it coming off the front wheel is constantly trying to take my feet off the pegs. But I make it up the grade, no traffic out there at all. Nobody else dumb enough to try it, I guess.

    As I crest the grade into Yucca Valley, the slush turns to real snow, and the town is beautiful with about 4″. I ride through town very slowly, watching for ice. I turn left on Hwy 247, heading for home. But right at the airport there is a wash to cross. I pull up at the edge of it, trying to gauge the depth. I see a refrigerator float by. Not a good sign. Then an old Buick pulls up on the other side, and he’s waiting to watch me try it. Look in the mirror, here comes the Highway Patrol, looking to close the road. Off I go, with my feet on top of the engine cases. It was touch and go, but I made it across, and headed home, with the road turning icy quick.

    Another 15 minutes, and I pull up in my driveway. My wife hears me, and comes to the door. I can’t feel or move my fingers, they’re stuck in handgrip position, as I peel myself off and head for the door. My wife says, “That was pretty &*%&**ng stupid. Your friend Bob lives 5 miles from the job.”

    “Yes, dear, and thank you for your support. Now can you help me to the woodstove, and pull these clothes off?” I hope I never have to do anything like that again. Who knew hell could be so cold?”

  • In June of 2008 I decided to visit some friends in Minnesota. It was the same weekend that the torrential rains in Wisconsin washed out the levee and drained the laks in the Wisconsin Dells. Riding the entire weekend in rain, and wind and tornados produced some serious adventures.

    The ride home in the lat evening was the most interesting. Crossing Wisconsin from northwest to southeast I rode through some of the worst of the flooding. Twice I had to “ford” a river that spran up in the roadways.

    There is something alittle disconcerting about being ankle deep in water while your feet are on the pegs and listening to the sound your exhaust makes as it burbles underwater.
    The wave of water being forced out in front of the bike as I maintained just enough speed to keep upright was reflected in the headlight..the water shooting forward from the front fender like a geyser…

    An excellent adventure once..I would not care to repeat it anytime soon…
    Thankfully my Goldwing performed flawlessly and my rain gear kept me warm and dry.

  • I live in West Palm Beach, so I’ve been through a few hurricanes in the past years. My motorcycle (now motorcycles) is my only form of transportation, so riding in bad weather isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. I’ve ridden in a hurricane, although the worst part of the storm wasn’t here yet, so it was only tropical storm force winds. It really wasn’t that bad to be honest. The worst part was dodging debris that was already starting to get blown on to the roads. At least the cage traffic was light.

    Oh yeah, riding AFTER a hurricane can be much worse. All the stop lights are out due to the lack of power, and the cagers are morons who just blow right through the intersections.

  • If riding through a hurricaine makes me a Lizard, I’ll paint myself green. On my first long ride with my son, we were going from NYC to Hollywood, FL. We had heard about Katrina churning in the Atlantic, hoping to get to Hollywood before it hit. We didn’t make it.
    We were in West Palm Beach when it hit. But, we did the only logical thing. We kept going.

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