Are you a rain rider?

Mark Barlow

This will be the beginning of the SSC weekly blog. And for the first post I'd like to share a really unpleasant trip I made back from a popular Pacific NW rally near Arlington Washington.

Let me preface this story with an admission about motorcycle riding in the great North West. If it ain't raining you are nearly morally obligated to ride…that or ride between the raindrops. Considering it's the rain capital of the mainland states with areas reaching 130+ inches of rain a year you don't get much in the way of good riding days. Sometimes the sun is so rare you'd best strap your water wings on or wait for the blessed moments of calling in sick to work when that strange yellow orb in the sky burns through and everyone just stops to stare while awaiting the arrival of Richard Dreyfus from the Close Encounters mother ship. No seriously it's not often to see the sun around here. According to the healthy living website care2.com of the top 10 cities in America with the worst weather three are in the northwest and top the list with first AND second place! No wonder coffee and beer are taken so seriously up here. Starbucks and Mcmenamins Brothers Brewing might as well be pharmacies!

However I digress.

I was visiting friends up in Arlington, north of Seattle, for a weekend of bonfires, partying, great American food, foosball and bikes. On a beautiful, slightly foggy yet sunny, Sunday morning we all threw a leg over and rumbled down to the Mukilteo ferry crossing to Whidbey Island where we staged up within long lines of bikes all headed to the rally. Trust me when I say that being a part of nearly 100 V twins embarking a ferry is a satisfyingly loud experience. After a short 20 minutes skip across the Puget Sound we head on up 525 North for one of the most beautiful rides you will ever see in the mainland US. The vistas of the Sound, the Olympic Peninsula and up toward Canada are stunning. There's a road side stop at Deception pass, just before the bridge, between the islands of Whidbey and Fidalgo that's worth the gander.

Not long after that you roll up highway 20 into downtown Anacortes and…you guessed it. BIKES BIKES AND MORE BIKES.

After half a day of walking around in boots meant for foot pegs and not asphalt, eating too many burgers and ice cream, and seeing at least half a dozen bikes that make you look at yours like an up and coming ex wife, you're ready to get back to riding. After wading your way through stop and go biker rush hour, slow pedestrians at cross walks and the occasional scowling long arm of the law on your way out of town you finally toe it into second, third and on up. The wind rushes by you. Your Motor rumbles. The mountains and forests and smell of the ocean caress your senses. And you think to yourself, ok darl’n, you're not some Orange County trailer queen but you ain't so bad.

We get back, have another great night of bonding with great friends, several of which flew in from Australia, and head back to our hotel rooms. The next morning after a breakfast to give a rhino food coma I say goodbye to all my biker friends and set out for home…Oregon.

So here's the thing. Nearly every major aboriginal culture throughout history has a rain god. Central and South America, Australia, Africa. Even the nomadic Middle East has a rain god...no surprise there. And then there's China who has an entire hierarchy of rain gods and dragons. Really…rain dragons?

Except tribes of the Pacific Northwest. They don't need one. Everyone else's rain gods all live there in condos, timeshares and vacation rentals around lake Washington or some adorable cottage out near Alki point, the western most part of Seattle that gazes right out on the deep waters of the puget sound.

You go to any drought ridden landscape and there will be some poor soul tasked with enticing their deity of the downpour to get off his high and mightily worshipped ass and spread a little liquid sunshine. Sadly their particular rain god is hanging out at a crochet coffee clatch meetup at one of the local Starbucks that can be found about every five hundred feet in Seattle with his or her demigod Facebook friends from North and South American, Australia, and China!

Anyway…thundering down I-5 south at 75 mph fifteen miles north of downtown Seattle…I swear it was one of those damn flannel wearing rain dragons watching a documentary on Kurt Cobain. Cue the waterworks...

So the grunge movement came out of Seattle. You ever wonder why? Try living in a city where it rains thirteen months out of the year and you'd be a pretty pissed off too. Yeah…it came down. And down and down and down…

At one point I was whisking through the expressways of the central business district with a semi in front of me, a semi to the left, one to the right and…well I dont know what was behind me as the amount of water being moved would have impressed Moses at the Red Sea. It was like that all the way through to the far side of the state capital, Olympia. It was so cold at one point I feared spontaneously changing sex as my boys were trying to crawl back up inside. My teeth were chattering, my finger tips were stinging, I was miserable.

Never have I enjoyed the first world indulgence of a hot shower like I did at the end of that day.

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