Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Free Wheelin'

Publisher Rathjen weighs in on different things pertaining to motorcycling. Sometimes a bit hard to the point and slightly abrasive, his Free Wheelin’ column is not afraid to make a stand on issues that he feels are of importance to riders and riding.

Name: Brian Rathjen

Current Rides:

Kawasaki KLR 650, BMW R1200GS

Favorite quote:

If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.

- Henry Ford

Weather Worriers or

If you got nothing to say, don't say anything!

The rain may never fall till after sundown

By eight, the morning fog must disappear

In short, there's simply not a more congenial spot

For happily ever after in than here in Camelot

We have said many times that nothing is more depressing than suiting up to begin a ride or long tour in the pouring rain.

Getting caught in the rain is never fun, but starting out? Damn sucky at best.

But, rain happens and if you really ride then you will get wet.

FWWeatherThat being said I am still a weather-geek. My go-to source for long-range weather prediction is and Joe Bastardi’s updates.

Joe bats around .800 and if he were a baseball player with that average, they would carry him to Cooperstown and create a bronze bust in his honor!

Even though I keep a slight eye on what is coming my way, I try never to overthink it, unless it is a storm with a name or so strong it might blow me to Oz.

But, there is a difference between vigilant and obsessive.

We know there are a few riders – both gals and guys – who will start e-mail or texting us, a week or so before our Backroads Rallies, to paint us a doom & gloom image of what might happen rain-wise.

Not once have these same riders let us know when the atmosphere would provide a Mary Poppin’s manner of rally weather.

I have found over the last few seasons that more and more riders now are looking at their smartphone weather apps every 5 minutes and then seem to dwell on something over which they have no control.

If it were just one or two riders I might overlook it, but it seems that so many riders I meet talk more about what is going to happen with the weather over the next few days rather than where they are going to ride and what they are going to see,

These were men and women who once laughed at Zeus and the other Gods of Weather, but now stare at screens and have become almost Chicken Littlish in their thinking.

It is almost sad. No, it is sad.

The last time I checked there were over 8,000 apps that were aimed at the weather. 8,000!? Yikes!

We are not saying today’s readily available and current weather info is not a good thing – just pointing out the constant anxiety about what is coming in the sky by some riders.

We use Dark Sky – it is easy, quick, very accurate and worth the price.

On the road, I look to see what is coming and then go about my plans.

I was recently riding with a friend that spent every off-bike moment looking at a storm 1,000 miles to the west.

Was it coming our way? You betcha. Two days from now, so my thought was to enjoy the 70 degrees and puffy clouds we had this day and deal with the storm when it began to rain.

I was talking to another friend who was already at a rally that we were going to be heading up to in a couple of days.

“How’s it going up there?”

“Well, we got some rain coming in.”


“Later in the week… at night.”

At night? Excellent. We must be in Camelot!

Rain, rain, go away, Come again another day, Daddy wants to play

I have also noticed a correlation with some of these riders and what they choose as riding gear. Almost to a rider, these motorcyclists wear gear that is not even water-resistant, let along waterproof.

These are the riders that we see huddled under an overpass during a downpour, pulling on bulky and restraining rain suits over their less than adequate riding gear – only to have to peel it all off an hour later when the sun returns.

Believe me, nothing is totally waterproof, but we have ridden for hundreds of miles in some very heavy downpours and only been slightly damp for our troubles.

As Shira likes to say… “We ain’t made of sugar, baby!”

Is high-end gear like Aerostich’s Roadcrafter suits and the like expensive. Yes. But, they work in the sun and the rain.

Rain happens. Get used to it. But, instead of fretting about what is to come, enjoy the perfect sunny day that you have now.

No reason to be a Weather Worrier.