A Bad Case of Wind

The most diabolical driving conditions that I have experienced in a very long time.

The chap at the petrol pump leaned over and commenting on my motorcycle, said “I’ve got an ordinary 1150 and it’s frightening in the wind

"The aerodynamic of a brick", I said, knowing exactly what he meant.



In my case, it’s an 1150 GS 'Adventurer', a huge BMW ''Enduro', with a larger tank and big side aluminium side-panniers. The GS1150 is one of those machines that you on if you want to pop-out to Timbuktu for a swift pint. Nothing gets in its way, deserts, mountains or even the congestion charge but it doesn't like wet roads much, if like me, you haven't got ABS fitted.

So while the rain gave the world a bleak washed-out look, the rising wind was also looking as if it was going to present me with a serious problem, with a hundred mile ride ahead, back in to London.

I was right. Within, ten miles, I was seriously thinking of turning around as the gale tried to sweep me off the road. The rain, I could cope with, just, in my new Gore-Tex BMW waterproofs but the worst hazard was really other drivers, not fast reckless ones - there were none - but slow and very nervous Sunday drivers.

Riding a motorcycle in a severe cross-wind like this is much like trying to land a tail-wheel aircraft in the same conditions, it’s a balancing act and with the aircraft, you have to be very careful to keep the speed right as you side slip or grief will arrive very suddenly, as I learned when I owned a Kitfox. You lose speed and you lose control, and the same thing applies on a wet and windy road on a large motorcycle. There’s an optimum speed, around 60Mph, where the speed balances the gale from the side. Any slower and it becomes difficult to avoid being dragged across into the fast lane in front of quicker traffic.

Actually a Christen Eagle.

Drawing up behind the slower moving cars on the coast road and you can almost feel the anxiety in the vehicle in front. White knuckles gripping the steering wheel at less than 60 Mph, perhaps under 50Mph too and I’m forced to overtake them. They have four pieces of rubber holding them on the road and I have only two and much less weight, so you might think that they would realise that what a motorcycle can do, they can do as safely but they don’t. They are too pre-occupied worrying that the rising levels of rainwater will drown them if the wind doesn’t pick them up and blow them away to OZ first.

Further down on to the M2 motorway and the rain is coming down so hard it actually hurts through the layers of my armoured jacket. The carriageway has become a lake and even I’m forced to drop to 5th gear to avoid aquaplaning. The only other bike I see is one like my own, going into the other direction and we nod at each other, wet comrades in discomfort.

By the time I reach the M25 at least the rain has stopped, so getting home seems a little more likely than finding myself in a waterlogged ditch under a pile of autumn leaves.

Motorcycling has its advantages but if I hadn’t had to get home to go to Amsterdam at the crack of dawn tomorrow, I wouldn’t have risked it. There’s something to be said for using a car, in the winter at least.

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