Tuesday, August 3, 2010


One of the essential ingredients in making the scooter a reasonable choice as a means of commuting, is to make sure that you have the right gear.  Rainy weather comes and most powered two wheelers head for the shed. But if your scooter is your means of commuting, you really need to be prepared to ride in the rain.

It could be nice and sunny for the morning commute, but the evening could be really wet.  If you leave your bike at work it's an inconvenience.  If you forego the bike every time there's a chance of rain, you will miss out on so many riding days that you won't really be commuting on the scooter any more.

Really good rain gear makes all the difference.

Last evening I stopped in Lachine because the sky had gone from grey and iffy, to black and menacing.  I sat on a park bench and donned full rain gear that I always carry in the underseat compartment (affectionately known to Vespa owners as the "pet carrier", owing to the prominent "No pets" warning sticker inside): Teknic waterproof overpants and a matching jacket.

Just as I had secured the last velcro closure, torrents of rain fell with gusting winds.  The rain was so heavy that it was like a veil of water descending.  The only issue I had was controlling fogging on the visor of my Nolan N-102 full face modular helmet.  Not too challenging.

I reduced my speed, made sure my high beam was on, rode very cautiously, and avoided slippery surfaces like painted lines, painted lane, turn indicators, and crosswalks, metal construction plates, and the like.

Rain is one thing, lightning is another.

As soon as lightning began I sought shelter.  I found an outdoor market in Dorval, parked the bike in the parking lot and took cover under its large canopy.
While I feel perfectly safe sitting in a car during a thunderstorm, riding a bike is another story.  Without the protection of a good grounded or insulated metal structure to act as a Faraday cage, getting struck by lightning is an all-too-real risk.  I reasoned that short of being indoors, the heavy metal structure of the market's canopy could act as a Faraday cage if lightening did strike.

Once the sky lightened and the thunder stopped, I continued on my way.  The pause at the market to wait out the lightning was a pleasant break, a moment in time in an adventurous evening commute.

Inclement weather is not something to be avoided at all costs.  With the right gear, and a little common sense, it adds spice to the scoot commute and is one more reason that I am loving the summer of 2010.

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.