by Leilehua Yuen (Hula Rider)
his week our rainy season has begun. The clouds that last month made a
lovely lei around the summit of Mauna Kea are now darkening and piling
up against the windward slopes of our mountains. Mornings dawn silver
and grey, rather than the gold and red of summer. We still can ride all
year round, though, as long as additional safety precautions are taken
to deal with the increasing rains.
I've written a couple of articles on how to deal with riding in the
rain. They are "Singin'
in the Rain, Part I," which offers some tips on riding rainy
highways and "Singin'
in the Rain Part II," which offers some tips on getting through town
on a rainy day. At the time I wrote them, I'd owned my bike three or
four months and ridden about 6,000 miles, mostly in the rain. Our rainy
season started early that year. I've now ridden about 30,000 miles,
about 16,000 of which have been in the rain.
What have I learned in those additional miles? Well, I grew up in the
rain on this island, so it does not intimidate me. But I have learned an
ever-greater respect for the rain and its effects. You've probably heard
how the Eskimo have over 20 words for different kinds of snow. Here in
Hawai`i, we have hundreds of words for the different kinds of rain,
wind, and rain/wind combinations. And it seems that all of them affect
me and my bike a little differently!
Kauakanilehua - The Rain that Makes a Song on the Lehua Petals - is a
lovely rain. It comes mostly straight down, sheeting over your visor,
beading on the tank, bouncing as it hits the asphalt, fanning into low
wings as your tires cut through the road water. I love to ride through
Kauakanilehua up the Saddle Road, watching the undulating curtains of
droplets hide and reveal the `ohi`a-lehua forest, smelling the fragrance
of the rain-bruised ferns and earthiness of the wet forest floor.
Kekili`ohu - The Fine Misty Rain - is especially refreshing if the
mountain summit has been hot and dry. To ride down the hot asphalt
through the lava fields shimmering with heat, your skin feeling dry,
lips cracking, then below you is the undulating cloud bank, opalescent
grey. . .drop into it. . . suddenly your face is cool, droplets bead on
your lips, you can taste the freshness of the forest in the rain. . .
There are many songs written in Hawaiian about this feeling, and it is
poetically compared to falling in love.
Kekilinoe - The Rain Mixed with Mist - Lower on the mountain side the
Kili`ohu thickens. The drops are slightly bigger, and a heavier mist
accompanies them. This is the rain that seeps under your visor, fogging
it! How beautiful this rain is if you are walking in the forest,
watching the branches become over laden with moisture, tremble under the
weight, shiver, and dip, pouring nectar-scented water in your face! But
oh! How frightening to be on a motorcycle, sweeping through a curve, to
be suddenly blinded with opalescent silver! You flip up the visor and
your eyes are stung with the fine drops! For this, I wear goggles under
my helmet. I can flip up my visor long enough to clean off the fog, then
pull it back down.
To ride safely in the rain, as in any other situation, practice! Get
together with some friends and, if you can't find some rain handy, hose
down a big driveway or a parking lot. Practice your emergency stops.
Practice turns. Practice swerving. Even if you do not plan to ride in
the rain, if you ride long enough, someday you will be on a wet road.
This practice could literally save your life. I have ridden in the heavy
rains of storms, and even through the tail of a hurricane. I don't
recommend it. But a gentle shower can be delightful if you are prepared
with both the proper gear and practice.
E nihi ka hele, mai ho`opa`a (travel gently, arrive firmly)
Leilehua Yuen (Hula Rider)
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Leilehua is the owner of Yuen Media Services. She has two websites,
Both sites feature her original artwork. While Leilehua is an active poster in the
About Motorcycles Forum, she also spends time writing review for
Epinions.com. She currently rides a Yamaha Virago 750 as well as her
boyfriend's Kawasaki Vulcan 500. She is restoring another Virago. Her
very first bike, pictured right along with Leilehua the Elf - ready for
the Toys for Tots run, is a Honda Nighthawk 450.