Road Rash: I Wanna Be a Weatherman

Oct 13, 2015 View Comments by

Road Rash: I Wanna Be a WeathermanThe Rain on My Parade –

Becoming a member of the RoadRUNNER team was a memorable experience for obvious reasons, and a reoccurring thought formed as I began to anticipate touring for the magazine. I soon realized I was expecting a future of rain-free tours, a belief no doubt fostered by the endless photos of bikes gliding through sun-dappled vistas in each issue. Although I hadn’t thought about the irrationality of it, the reason seemed obvious: It simply didn’t rain on their trips.

I wondered if perhaps their tours were conducted in a special corner of the universe where the weather is always perfect: “Welcome to the team, Steve, here’s your pass to the RoadRUNNER Climadome. The Appalachians are on level three, and please don’t forget to record your entry point on the GPS so you can find your way back. The restaurants have been notified of your arrival, so have a great tour!”

Now that I have a few tours under my belt, I have a startling revelation to share: We ride on the same roads as everyone else, and yes, we do get rained on without impunity. We just don’t take pictures of it. Sorry to let that one out, Christa, but they would have found out sooner or later anyway.

For most of us, the weather is a major factor in planning a two-wheeled getaway. We schedule our trips for the most accommodating seasons and then fine-tune our plans based on the latest weather forecasts as our departure nears. And more often than not, we get snookered over and over by forecasts that are nowhere near the actual weather conditions encountered.

On our Tennessee Camping Shamrock Tour (see the August ‘12 issue), for example, the forecast called for progressively improving weather throughout the week. Starting with an 80 percent chance of rain on our Sunday departure day, the odds of precipitation were supposed to quickly drop to 30 percent, then 20 by midweek. In actuality, the first precipitation-free day that we experienced was the following Saturday, with the days in between consisting of nearly steady rain punctuated by periodic deluges. Although our gear kept us reasonably dry through most of it, my willpower was stretched to the limit each morning when the time came to leave the snug warmth of our tent.

I’ve noticed a fairly consistent pattern over the past few years; the weather forecasts usually improve a few days down the road, with the fourth or fifth day out generally showing little or no chance of rain. The forecast is then downgraded on a daily basis, with the good days always dangling in the future like a carrot on a stick. And there’s always some mumbo-jumbo excuse for the deteriorating conditions. “A shift in the jet stream is holding the low-pressure system stationary a bit longer than anticipated, and it’s going to be a few more days before some high-pressure brings clear skies in from the west.” Blah, blah, blah. The line is probably on page 38 of the meteorologist’s handbook of excuses. How far do you think this performance would fly for other occupations? “Well, sir, the solder I used on your water lines was apparently incompatible with the copper alloy of your pipes, and as a result I’d strongly advise that you keep all valuables several inches off of the floor. Sorry for the inconvenience!”

All the satellite and radar technology touted by meteorologists should guarantee a certain degree of accuracy, but I’m convinced it’s simply a smoke-and-mirrors routine designed to lull us into complacency. I have my own theory on how the forecasting is actually done: I think they slip out into the backyard under a full moon, dab charcoal from the grill onto their faces, and study the landing pattern of chicken bones tossed from a KFC box onto the lawn.

I’ve come to accept the inevitability of rain while touring, even when on assignment for RoadRUNNER. There’s even something comforting about being warm and dry after riding for hours in the rain, thanks to some quality rain gear and a decent fairing on the bike. And besides, it’s fun watching the people in cars stare at you like you’re a kitten being washed down a storm drain. But perhaps once, and only once since I’m not a greedy person, I’d like to take one of those fantasy tours with a cloudless, cerulean sky overhead day after day.

One thing is certain: If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to be a weatherman the next time around. Get it right or get it wrong, they still get paid for the show, and it’s pretty hard to argue with that.

 

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