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Hail to the What?!

February 23, 2012 by Anthony O 2



You know those frozen particles that fall from the sky during storms. Yeah, that kind of hail. I’ve been caught out in storms with pea sized to golf ball sized hail, but never have I been exposed to the elements quite like I was yesterday. There was a severe weather advisory yesterday afternoon, one which we failed to recognize at the shop. It wasn’t like we didn’t check the weather, but when we did near closing time it was only showing a few heavy patches of rain. The Weather Channel app on the ol’ iPhone didn’t show severe thunderstorms OR that there was a severe thunderstorm warning with a chance of hail.

So we rode out.

But before we could actually leave we had to go through the fun of  getting the 2-fiddy started. I had spent all afternoon pulling her apart, checking wires, leads, switching out thumb controls, and even checking the solenoid. Nothing worked. We couldn’t figure out why she had simply stopped starting Monday. She had gone from firing up quicker than any motorcycle I’ve ridden to barely turning over, to doing nothing at all in the span of two starts. Roll starting worked well enough, but because she went from VROOM VROOM to nothing so quickly we thought it had to be something other than the battery. So, naturally, we didn’t check the battery. Yup, you guessed it, that was the problem, and by the time we got around to testing the battery it was too late to change them out. Well, we could have changed out batteries, but it would have done no good as the batteries out of the box need a trickle charge for about 90 minutes.

That’s when the fun began.

When first I tried roll starting the 2-fiddy, lovingly named Richfield, nothing happened. The rain was already a downpour, the three of us completely soaked, and we saw no point in waiting it out at the shop. So the other two guys who were riding back to town started pushing me. Still nothing after 3 attempts, then we noticed the kill switch. It wasn’t set to run.

First mistake.

One good shove down the drive and Richfield fired up like a champ. The others hopped back on their bikes, DA 10 (a Kawi ZX-10 that had just been cleaned, probably the reason for the storm) leading the way, followed by lil ol’ Richfield, and Bandit bringing up the rear. Cruising down the highway we passed a gas station after about a mile, but we didn’t stop.

Second mistake.

Within 10 seconds of Richfield getting by the station the hail hit. It wasn’t those tiny BB sized pellets either, it was pea sized, every-now-and-again it was about half the size of a golf ball. DA 10 pulled off at the old Allen’s Lake entrance, but waved for us to keep going, so Richfield and I kept trucking at our break-neck speed of about 45mph. As we came off Allen’s Lake hill I noticed my feet were literally in standing water… Inside my shoes! That’s how heavy the rain was coming down, within 5 minutes of getting out in the storm, my feet on the pegs nearly the entire time, and there was water standing in my shoes.

I should’ve worn my boots.

Third mistake. (I guess that would really, be the first going in chronological order, though it didn’t really matter until this point).

Legs sore and fingers nearly numb, we neared to the next safe haven, a gas station about 4 miles later than we should’ve stopped, but traffic came to a complete halt. Less than 200 yards from a logical place to wait out the storm, since we passed on the first 2, and we couldn’t get to it. There had been a head-on collision leaving both east and westbound traffic at a standstill. For nearly 2 minutes we had a respite from the hail. We could’ve been THOSE sport bike riders and weaved our way through the line of vehicles to reach the gas station, or we could’ve simply waited in the line of traffic with everyone else, if only for a few more minutes. We didn’t. We turned around, opting to take advantage of one of the greatest aspects of Kentucky road system, the all important cut-across roads.

Fourth mistake.

This is what we rode through.

A quick U-turn and we’re heading west once again just long enough to cut across on a side road that connected to another main highway. And a wonderful thing happened. The hail stopped, the rain nearly ceased, and hope for a pain-free ride the rest of the way to town gripped me–only to be torn away in one swift attack from the heavens.

Hail to the Junk. H.T.T.J. is something I had not experienced before, nor is it something I wish to experience again. It was like playing baseball and getting hit by a pitch, except there’s no cup protecting the jumbley-bits, and instead of it just being a 60+mph ball hitting you, there’s the addition of you traveling over 45mph as well.

Not. A. Pleasant. Experience.

The remainder of the ride was uncomfortable to say the least. DA 10 was back up front, Richfield nestled comfortably in the middle, and Bandit bringing up the rear again. But on top of the downpour, H.T.T.J., and the difficulty in seeing because of the water on my visor, there was one other complication to riding, at least for me. Water channels. It wasn’t anything near as terrible as what I’ve read for 2-fiddies. The channels weren’t pushing Richfield to and fro, dragging me along for the ride, but there was a slight change in her path when we hit one. Nothing bad, just enough to get my attention and make me even more cautious.

This did have a happy ending, at least. We finally decided to stop once in town. The worst of the storm over. The hail had finally stopped, leaving up to 2 inches of evil, white pain on the road, but it had finally stopped.

The lesson learned?

Wear my boots. Perhaps wearing the overpants would be a good idea too as that would help greatly with the H.T.T.J., but that’s not something I’ll have to worry about often.

At least, I hope that’s something I won’t have to worry about often.

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