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Aloha from Hawai`i!

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 the Elf, ready for Toys for Tots RunAbout Leilehua Yuen:
Leilehua is the owner of Yuen Media Services. She has two websites,
Kaahele Hawaii and Wrench Wench. 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.


 

 

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