Maybe it’s Murphy’s Law, or maybe it’s just that the rain follows me wherever I go — regardless of which continent I’m traveling. Sure, the odds of rain in New England in October are much higher than that of Southern California in November, but who would’ve thought that during my first presentation in California in over a year that rain might dampen the turnout?
Looking at both the sky and my weather App on my iPhone, I figured I had two options this morning. I could where my rain suit and prepare for the inevitable, or I could just venture out with fingers crossed hoping I wouldn’t be praying for an underpass where I could change. As motorcycle riders are well aware, if I wore the rain suit, it surely wouldn’t rain. If I set out sans rain suit, it would rain in no time.
I set out without my rain suit.
At BMW Motorcycles of Riverside Dan told me that with RSVP’s, it looked like he’d be near capacity for my presentation this afternoon. One group, a club from Palm Springs, had indicated if it was raining they’d likely not show. That would leave about 10 or more empty chains. I promised to arrive early to help set up and make sure all the gear worked. After about 10 miles the skies opened up and I was in a gas station putting on my “Big Bird” rain suit.
The woman checking her tire pressure looked at my struggling with the bulk of my riding suit under the pvc plastic rain gear and helped hoist the top over my shoulder. “You better be careful out there,” she warned, “it’s slick.”
Sure enough, it was slick. I slowly split through heavy traffic caused by two accidents on the 15 Freeway toward Riverside. The rain had stopped by then. Fifteen minutes later the skies poured again. My friend Ken, visiting from Northern California had smartly driven down to SoCal for my presentation, was somewhere tied up in this traffic. Though I left a few minutes prior, I was sure I’d get to the dealership first. I was wrong. Ken was already checking out the gear—and the bikes— and talking with owner Dan Schoo.
“How’d you beat me here,” I asked inquisitively knowing that I had split traffic and though cautious in the rain, I had kept a good pace.
Just a few minutes after the staff moved my bike into the show room the rain poured. And poured relentlessly. This is the hardest rain I’d seen in some time. The three of us stared out the window at the empty parking lot. Dan didn’t like the idea of putting his shiny new motorcycles outside in the rain. But we had too. The showroom would be the auditorium and stage for this afternoon’s presentation. But even more, Dan worried that the well promoted event might fail to bring in the crowds he and his staff hoped for.
By the time Dan introduced me, people were scurrying and struggling to find a comfortable place to sit. Those stragglers who showed after I started stood on the foot pegs of the few bikes still in the showroom. Motorcyclists are a determined bunch, even if they didn’t ride, they came out in force to see my presentation in the pouring rain.
Keeping in line with the connections I’m making on my speaking and presentation tour of many BMW dealerships, a familiar face approached me as I was setting up my computer. Next to this man with a kind face and easy smile was a redheaded woman who also looked quite familiar. The tall man reached out his hand and said, “Nice to finally meet you Allan. I’m “FlyingAvanti” and this is Sandy, ‘the redhead on back.” Wow. I can’t believe it. After many missed connections in South America, I finally meet fellow motorcycle travelers who spent a couple years on and off traveling around South America. They started their journey in South America a few months before I set out for Alaska in July 2005. We nearly brushed up against each other in Northern Brazil. Since the three of us have been stateside we’d been threatening to get together for dinner, a beer or coffee, but just haven’t connected. Now, finally here in Riverside, California–Dale, aka FlyingAvanti and Sandy live just a few miles from BMW Motorcycles of Riverside. So great to finally meet face to face after all the emails and miles.
I kept the presentation to just over an hour, but the Q & A lasted equally, if not more, longer. I would’ve stayed all night, anything to avoid putting on that suit and riding in the pouring rain. You see, while we’re blessed in California to have year round riding, getting to the riding from the popular coastal cities of LA, Orange County and San Diego requires riding sometimes an hour or more on freeways: massive slaps of pavement with sometimes fourteen lanes or more. And in the rain? No true adventure rider will ever admit to this being fun or desirous.
More than sixty people showed up at BMW Motorcycles of Riverside for the WorldRider presentation on November 20, 2010.
Note the wet pavement outside as I give my presentation.
The crowd was intrigued and intrigued me with some very insightful and often difficult to answer questions.
By the time we were bringing the bikes back into the showroom, it was dark and just sprinkling. Here owner Dan Schoo poses with me next to my trusty steed, Doc.
Nonetheless, by the time the crowd dissipated and after several cups of warm coffee, it was time. Should I wear the rain suit? Nah.
Bad move. Twenty minutes later I was stuck in another downpour. And on the freeway.
It doesn’t matter. I made it home safe and the last WorldRider presentation of the year was very successful. My next presentations are in February in Oregon. Will I see you there?
WorldRider Presentations in Pacific Northwest – February 2011
Wednesday, February 2nd: BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon in Tigard
Thursday, February 3rd: European Motorcycles of Western Oregon in Eugene