Wet-weather gear is the bane of every motorcyclist’s existence. Wretched, uncomfortable, invariably dishonest, and ultimately useless – it is the Curse Eternal.
And it is exclusively our curse. And thus must we come to terms with it. For only then can we find peace and harmony.
I have owned many different types of wet-weather gear. Actually, I have owned ALL the wet-weather gear – some of it multiple times. Much of it is still out there, flapping on barbed-wire fences, refusing to decompose in table-drains, and strangling dolphins in the Great Barrier Reef.
Peace and harmony eluded me. But I’m a stubborn and cussed creature. I persisted in the search for wet-weather gear that did not fill my heart with black hatred.
I walked the wrong path for many years. Such wet-weather gear did not exist. I wanted it to exist and I sought it because I felt it must exist somewhere, but it was not anywhere because it did not exist.
Certainly, wet-weather gear has improved since I first started looking back in 1978. But it has peaked. It is perhaps less wretched. It is marginally more comfortable. But it’s still dishonest and ultimately useless.
But after 3.5-million kilometres and almost half-a-century of riding, I have accepted the Tao of it. And I am at peace.
And this is crucial. One must accept and understand the Tao of Wet-Weather Gear if one is to refrain from dreadful depredations and find harmony.
Tao is a fancy Bat Empire word which means “The Way”. To Chinese philosophers, Tao is the absolute principle underlying the universe. It is the Yin and the Yang that brings harmony to the natural order of all creation.
Even wet-weather gear, the Curse Eternal.
So let us walk together upon the Tao of Wet-Weather Gear in the hope that you too shall find peace and harmony with the Curse Eternal…
There is no such thing as “waterproof” motorcycle gear. Shut the fuck up. There isn’t. I know what it says on the label. I know what you paid for it. The label lies and you’ve been had.
For something to be waterproof it must never let in any moisture at all ever, ever, ever. The only way this is possible is if there is a perfect air-tight seal between the water and the thing being protected from the water. In this case, that’s you. On your motorcycle. Belting through the rain at 120km/h. Sometimes for many hours.
See the problem? You are not sealed inside your wet weather gear. You can’t be. Water will drip down your neck. It will flow down the sleeves and into your gloves. It will seep into your boots. It will find its way into the seams. It’s what wind and water does. Given time, it will level mountains. You haven’t got a chance and neither does your wet-weather gear.
You will get wet.
This may not happen in the first hour if your wet-weather gear is good. It may not happen in the second hour if your wet-weather gear is great. It may not even happen in the fourth hour if you’ve spent three-months’ wages on gear made by aliens, and which is rated “five-star superb” by everyone who allegedly knows these things.
But it will happen. You ride in the rain long enough and hard enough and you’re going to get wet.
Now I’m sure there are some champions reading this going: “Yeah nah, that’s bullshit. My gear is totally waterproof.”
Really? OK. I know you’re an idiot, and I’m going to prove it to you, and then you’ll know you’re an idiot as well, and we can move on towards harmony.
Here’s what you need to do for me…
Put on all your totally waterproof wet-weather gear. Now go and jump into a pool. Note how your conviction is almost immediately destroyed as water floods everything.
If your gear was totally waterproof, you would not be wet when you climbed out of the pool, would you? And yet, you are.
Accept and find peace in this.
The following scenarios are carved in stone upon the road-forged soul of every motorcycle rider. You know these are all self-evident truths. And you know the rules that come with these truths should never be broken, because if they are broken, then terrible things will happen.
Your mindset is everything. Have the right mindset.
Scenario One: You’re going on a ride and it is raining heavily before you leave. You put on your wet-weather gear and head off into the rain. Understand you can now not take off this gear until you have reached your destination. Not even if it stops raining. Especially if it stops raining. You must wear that wet-weather gear until you arrive – and I don’t care how dank, manky, slimy, and fetid you begin to feel inside that gear.
Rot and pong, you bastard! But do not think to take your gear off. Because if you do, it will rain again. And then you will have to stop, and put on your wet wet-weather gear by the side of the road – and this will only bring shame and suffering upon you, your family, and any friends you might have with you, who have every right to kill you with a rock when the inevitable shame and suffering begins.
Scenario Two: You’re riding along and ahead of you there are rain clouds. You begin the Pull-Over-Or-Continue Discussion in your head.
If Pull-Over wins, you stop by the side of the road, search for your wet-weather gear in all your gear, unroll it, note that it stinks of rotting death since the last time you wore it, then begin putting it on by the side of the road.
You fucken dickhead.
The best-case scenario is that you will get a cramp or two struggling into stinking gear that is either too big or too small, realise you need a piss after it’s on, then do it all again.
The worst-case scenario is you’ll catch your foot in the pants – and it’s always the foot and the pants – fall into your bike, which will then fall onto the road and be hit by a car, which will then burst into flames and hit a tree, which will then cause a bushfire that will devastate a million acres and kill 26 people and 1300 cows. But you’ll miss all of that because you would have tumbled into a ditch, broken your pelvis and your phone, and will only regain consciousness in the Careflight helicopter some hours later.
If Continue wins, then you’ll ride on until it starts to sprinkle, and you’ll say to yourself: “It’ll stop. I don’t have far to go. It’s not raining that hard”. And you’ll ride on. If you’re smart.
If you do stop, and only an idiot would, a new horror presents itself. You now have to put your wet-weather gear on over your already damp riding gear. The chances of the worst-case scenario outlined above now increase exponentially.
Wet-weather gear hates being slid on over leather like a stripper hates you trying to put your finger in her arse when she’s dancing. It, like the stripper, will punish you.
You have decided to continue and now it’s lashing down. All your problems and doubts are now as dust. There is no more doubt or debate. Only clarity of thought and purpose remains.
You are now wet, and the laws of physics dictate that you can only get so wet. This is known as Peak Wet. Once you have reached Peak Wet, you are at peace because you cannot get any wetter. This is it. This is as bad as it gets. And since you are not made of sugar. It’s not that bad, is it?
It is certainly better than lying in a ditch with a broken pelvis while a family burns to death in a car 50-metres away, isn’t it?
Pease and harmony, baby. Peace and harmony.
There are two variants to the above scenarios.
The first variant is that you’re alone. Putting wet-weather gear on alone is extremely hazardous. Fuck-all of us are double-jointed contortionists. Most of us are fat pigs who struggle to get off a couch without groaning. Getting into your wet-weather gear without help is much harder than cooking polenta, commutative algebra, and understanding teenagers put together.
It’s possible you may die. It’s probable you will be maimed. And it’s highly likely you’ll hurt yourself or damage your bike in some way. It is impossible you will emerge unscathed.
The second variant is you are with friends. Now some of these friends will have wet-weather gear. Some will only have wet-weather pants. Some will have fuck-all – and they will be the ones who will hate you, as you hop around, puffing and panting, and trying to get your boots through the legs of wet-weather strides that fit you two years ago when you last put them on. There have been a few pies under the bridge since then, huh?
Your other mates may well help you get dressed, as you will help them get their wet-weather gear on. All that beaut Brothers of the Handlebars shit – and then some of you will realise your keys are still in your riding pants pocket and you have to get undressed to get them, or ask one of your mates to put his hand down your pants to get them.
Either way, the bloke with no wet-weather gear now hates you with a passion so vast, you’re only alive because there are too many witnesses.
But understand this, that once you’re all dressed and back on the road, do not take any of that stuff off until you get to your destination. You have already wasted a good hour of the no-wet-weather-gear bloke’s life, had your mate grope your dick looking for your keys, knocked your bike over, and torn a hole in your wet-weather pants when your boot went through them because you’re a fat, unco-ordinated fuck. Stopping again to take all that shit off is just not on.
And the no-wet-weather gear bloke is soaking wet anyway, and he doesn’t want to prolong that because you’re an inconsiderate, see-my-beaut-gear kinda bastard.
So ride on, fucker. Ride on.
In riding on, and not putting it on, you will be travelling upon the Tao of the Wet-Weather Gear. You will know peace and you will be in harmonious synchronicity with the universe.
Of course, you may continue to own wet-weather gear. And you may certainly continue to seek better versions of it as you travel through life. You must never lose hope.
I have no issue with that. All of that builds character, and hope is all we have when all else is lost.
But until you accept the Tao of Wet-Weather Gear, you will know no peace.
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.