Ensuring that my rain gear was fit and ready was a major priority for me before this trip and today I got to reap the rewards of my preparations. I made it from Fort Lauderdale to just south of Daytona before the clouds got really ominous looking. I stopped at a handy rest area and donned my rain gear. I was very glad that I’d tried it all on at home and that I was able to put it on today smoothly and before any rain appeared. No one likes to wear rain gear so it’s always a gamble to see how long you can go without putting it on yet not get wet (you can get soaked to the bone on a moving bike in the rain in about 30 seconds). My gamble today paid off as a short 3 miles after putting on the duds the downpour began and continued for about an hour. I stayed completely dry but was reacquainted with the difficulties in seeing the road in the rain; one has to look through a windshield, a helmet face shield and, in my case, glasses. All of which got wet in some form or another; none of which had a windshield wiper. That all combines to require absolute focus and attention when driving and that is mighty tiring.
Did I mention the smoke detour? Oh, yes, about 5 miles after the downpour began the state police closed I-95 down due to smoke from brush fires. Traffic was detoured east then north on local roads then back to I-95 (about an hour of creeping along, in the rain, sandwiched among semi’s, on slippery roads – a real treat). At least at highway speeds you can count of the air envelope around you to keep some water off you – at a traffic light it’s like sitting on your bike in the shower. Luckily, my rain gear did the job and even lived up to its promise to let air pass into the garments but not water, so no sweating to death in the rain suit.
After I got back on I-95 the rain began to taper off; another hour and the weather cleared completely and I was able to put the rain gear away and finish my ride to Jacksonville in comfort. I did get lucky in that I seem to have skirted the thunderstorms that were angling NW to SE across central Florida today, some of them pretty severe. The storm front even cleared out the really warm temps. Oddly enough, two hours after I checked into the hotel here and covered the bike, it started to rain again. Tomorrow, though, we are promised clear skies and cool temps (70s).
Tomorrow I’ll be riding to Pawleys Island, just south of Myrtle Beach, and taking a route off the Interstate on smaller roads through Manning, Greeleyville, and Andrews, South Carolina. This more rural route will shave 1.5 hours off my drive time and let me take in some of the scenery one usually doesn’t see from I-95. I may wind up stuck behind a hay combine or tractor for a few miles but that might be fun, too. Also, because Myrtle Beach Bike Week starts tomorrow, I may find myself in the company of other riders and it’s almost always fun to ride with a group.
Tomorrow: Howard’s (as the Pawleys Island Tavern is known to the locals) and my friends from Manhattan.