One of the first things that stuck me here is what people wear riding motorbikes.
Nearly every Harley rider you see is in just a T-shirt, and often shorts too. I can definitely understand this to an extent. It’s sweltering hot here – well into the 90s F (or 30s C) – and apparently it’s going to be hotter in the Badlands of South Dakota for Sturgis.
I’m kitted-out in kelvar Draggin’ Jeans, boots, an armoured leather jacket and armoured gloves. I still remember Nick drumming it in to us during my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) years ago about how important protective clothing is. I still remember Nick saying don’t even move the bike without gloves on. I’ve pretty much stuck to that ever since.
In the cargo area at Glasgow airport, I moved the Trooper around the warehouse in only a T-shirt and I felt naked. I’m just not used to it. Wearing a leather jacket is rarely a problem in the British climate, especially the Scottish one, but over here I feel like a boil-in-the-bag meal unless I’m going at speed when it’s just about tolerable.
I was trying to pack light, so I only have bike boots and kelvar jeans, but I wonder whether the jacket and gloves will actually last here. For now, I’m thinking that I’ve spent too much money on tattoos to risk scrapping them along the pavement, but I’m really struggling in this heat. Will my good intentions last?
The other thing I’ve noticed is that in the states in which helmets aren’t mandatory, almost nobody riding a Harley wears a helmet (but most sports bikers do). I hate to admit it, but I think the Harley riders are mad. I know from experience that the first thing to hit the deck when you come off is your head. Last year’s tumble had been at a fairly low speed but I walked away from that. I still have a little discomfort, probably from muscle damage, on my inner thigh where the bike landed on me. But I was wearing a helmet. The only vivid memory I have of that accident is being on the floor and my head still moving until it went bang into the road. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet that “gentle” accident may have given me brain damage or worse. My helmet stays!
But I am glad I bought a new flip-open front helmet – a Shoei Multitec – for the trip. Flipping open the front is making the slow speeds of town driving semi-bearable at least.