After Action Report #1

Now that I have been back for a while and had a bit of time to contemplate my journey I will try and report intelligently on the good and bad of my trip to help those that plan on similar adventures.  The first report is on riding gear.

I rode with a Shoei GT Air helmet and I think it was a very good choice for me.  The helmet is very quiet compared to the Shoei Qwest, Arai Signet Q and Arai Profile helmets I also own.  I have a long-oval head shape and the Shoei fits well; not as well as the Arai helmets but I have concluded that the Arai helmets are too noisy and either Shoei is better.  I wear ear plugs but there is still low frequency noise in some of these helmets that is discomforting on long rides.  I also have speakers in my helmet to play music and the GT Air with the right ear plugs is great for me.

One thing I did not consider would be as big a problem as it was is the face shield fogging.  In Southern California that is hardly ever an issue for me and I left my Zooke anti-fog wax at home.  I have never put the pin-lock anti-fog insert in my shield so I don’t know how well they work.  It seems to me that dirt can work its way between the two layers and cleaning would be a hassle.  I will try it and see if I am wrong.  In the cold, hard rain my shield was fogging to the point I had to ride with it cracked open.  I did buy some Novus 1 plastic cleaner and it helped with the fogging a bit.  My only complaint about the GT Air is that there is no little lever that allows the shield to crack ever so slightly like on the Qwest so I had to open it to the first detente which is pretty far open.

My BMW Rallye pants and jacket served me well on the trip.  I like that they are well ventilated and work over a large range of temperatures.  Above 90°F it helps to wet your base payer for some added cooling.  The suit kept me dry in all amounts of rain with the liner installed.  The liner is also a first layer of insulation.  I have mixed feelings about a suit with a waterproof liner as opposed to gear that has a waterproof outer shell.  With the Rallye the outer layer will hold water and I think that as a result you get colder in the rain because of the swamp cooler effect in the wind.  It may be better to carry a light rain layer to put on top but then why have a waterproof liner?  A drawback of the Goretex shell jackets is that they are not as well vented and can be very hot.  I have an Aerostich Darien Light suit but did not wear it for just this reason.  I think in the future I will get the light rain shell to put over the Rallye.

I did get a bit cold at times.  I wore Merino wool for a base layer and then a North Face Thermoball jacket with the Rallye liner and outer shell and it usually was enough but cold rain could make it a little cold.  I rode with a few people who had electric vests and they liked them.  I did not think I would need one but I am now reconsidering because a warmer core lets your body stay warmer at the extremities.  My toes and fingers got cold.  I have winter gloves and ran my heated grips on low but sometimes that was not enough.  It is not recommended by BMW to run the grips on high constantly so I did not do that.  I do not know what to do to keep my toes warmer.  Electric socks would be one option.  I had wool socks and bamboo fiber socks and when the rain kept my boots wet my feet were often cold.  At least after I sealed the leak in my boot I did not get wet and cold.  I rode with someone that had Sidi Adventure Rain boots; they are not waterproof, you have to pay more for their Gortex boots.  His feet were always wet.  Get Goretex boots.

I took three pairs of gloves for hot, cool and cold conditions and am glad I did.  The warm gloves are perforated and let air pass through while the other two are Goretex and kept my hands dry.  Once it got too hot for the Goretex gloves they could be uncomfortable.  With a heated vest I imagine my fingers would stay warmer in the worst conditions.  I forgot my balaclava but did have two different buffs to keep my neck warm, one with a fleece layer.  I missed the warmth the balaclava would have provided for my face.


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