What group rides teach you that you can’t learn riding alone

Early on in my biking life, I remember reading that “you’re not a real biker until you’ve made an overnight trip”.

I thought that might relate to packing luggage, which it does. However, it also relates to weather. Like many other riders, there have been a lot of days where I thought about riding, then went outside and felt the bitter cold of a windy 50 degree day. I quickly went back inside to see what else I could do.

Here’s a thought for you and it is, “You’re not a real biker until you’ve made an overnight trip with a group of experienced riders on a mission”.

3 years ago, I took my first Women’s Freedom Ride. I didn’t do the whole thing, but I did 3,500 miles. I remember the leader, Momma Bear, talking about questions asked from potential riders. “You don’t ride in the rain, do you?”. She laughed and said, “We have a schedule, we ride”

So, recently, I was on an overnight trip. When I came out in the morning, it was extremely windy and 50 degrees. It was cold. It was also raining, which makes it bitter cold. My bike is soaking wet, including the seat. Ick.

I’d already ridden in the rain, with 35 other women, at 80 mph, all day long. Thank you, Momma Bear and all the skilled, gifted and patient Ride Captains, who tutored me on how to do this.

I went to my room and put on my layers. Long sleeve insulated top, heated jacket liner, thick insulated jacket liner, leather jacket and Harley rain suit. Load the bike and get underway.

After getting dressed in the hotel, I was quite warm and it felt good to get outside. Although I had heated gear, I didn’t turn it on, as I was quite comfortable. I was surprised at how nice and warm I felt.

My bike has a full fairing in the front to keep the wind off of me, as well as little leg fairings to protect my legs. The sloped windshield beads the rain water and it blows off easily. My full face helmet protects my face and keeps my head totally dry.

I am totally amazed at the effectiveness of my rain suit at 75 mph. At this point, I’m riding in a total deluge of rain. The spray off of the other vehicles makes it a little difficult to see for everyone on the road. My vision is pretty good and the bike is stable and smooth. I’ve got the cruise control set, the tunes rocking and I am rolling along.

Without past experience pushing me to do things I would have never done on my own, I might have just stayed another night and watched the weather through a rain spotted window. I’ve done this before at home, said “Not Today”.

The rain clouds parted around lunch time. I pulled into a Red Lobster for lunch. One rule for riding all day is to always stop for an hour for a nice sit down lunch. It takes a lot of mental energy to ride a bike safely and the break is needed.

I can think back to before my biking days, seeing those wet bikers riding in the rain. I felt sorry for them, probably cold and soaked to the skin. In my case, not even close. I’m still warm as a Red Lobster cheese biscuit and dry as the cheap toast on a 99 cent breakfast.

You just have to be pushed to do it.

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