VIDEO: Winter motorcycle camping gets better when it stops raining

I’d made up my mind.

The next person who walked through the door, brushing sleet off their shoulders, motioning to my motorcycle parked outside and asking, “How’s the riding?” was going to get my small paper cup full of coffee in the face.

I’m not normally a hostile person. I’ve waited out the rain in corner stores before. But this was different. This was the most miserable ride I’d ever been on.

I’ve ridden in the rain. I’ve ridden in the cold. But I’d never experienced this particular scenario of darkness, bad roads, mixed precipitation and freezing temperatures before.

I’d taken the more direct route to my destination in New Hampshire. The road was pot-holed, heaved and bumper-to-bumper with Friday night traffic. The puddles on the pavement were starting to set up. The rain and sleet froze to my helmet’s face shield, making oncoming headlights look like a homicidal impressionist painting. I tried to ride with the shield in the up position but he sleet and rain felt like needles driving through my cheeks. I squinted through one eye, then the other, like an oscillating Popeye. I struggled to keep my speed up near the posted limit but I was leading a parade of headlights behind me at least 15 cars long.

Then my boots filled with water.

Trying to outsmart the weather, I slipped into my neoprene and rubber boots instead of my normal riding boots before I left home. A problem became immediately clear. My riding pants were too narrow at the ankle. They wouldn’t fit down over the boots. I tucked my pants into the boots instead. To keep the water out, I finished the look with a pair of L.L. Bean gaiters with the brand name GoreTex plastered over the front.

“That aught to do the trick,”I thought.

I thought wrong.

The gaiters were as effective as thin pieces of nylon stretched around my ankles — which I’m convinced is all they are. They soaked up the rain, guiding the icy liquid down the surface of my riding pants, depositing it efficiently in my waterproof boots. Let me just say, the boots worked great but they kept water inside just as effectively as they kept it out.

Luckily, the stream of wise asses in the store, asking about riding in the rain, came to a halt and the hot coffee ended up in my belly, rather than on someone’s face.

I sucked it up, rode longingly past a couple of motels and arrived at the camping spot several hours after everyone else. The rain stopped, the stars came out and I tromped down a spot in the snow for my tent.

I snuggled into my sleeping bags and went to sleep.

Saturday was a glorious day filled with bacon for breakfast, a great ride, some awesome downhill runner sled madness and an evening campfire.

Sunday saw more bacon and a fun ride home. Temps were around freezing and it was dry. We took the back roads and were not plagued by tailgaters.

On the state border, we stopped for coffee. I man climbed out of a beat-up pickup and asked how the riding was.

“Fun,” I said.

The Fur Hat Society was out in full force at this years annual winter motorcycle camping trip in New Hampshire. From left are Keith, John and Pate.

The Fur Hat Society was out in full force at this year’s annual winter motorcycle camping trip in New Hampshire. From left are Keith, John and Pate.

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Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.