There’s an App for That
I have an app on my phone called MyRadar. Even with all of the weather resources available to the technologically adept, this is one of my favorite realtime tools for tracking storms. As a pilot, I find it invaluable – especially when I use it on one of my other favorite tools: the iPad. The app gives you a 2-dimensional animated view of Doppler radar in your area.
As motorcyclists, Louise and I swear by it when storms are near. We have used the green, yellow and red globs to help us maneuver away from impending weather phenomena. Pro tip: green globs get you wet; yellow globs get you really wet; red globs make you question your life decisions.
The Freedom of the Road
Louise and I decided to take a day trip to visit with family. Actually, we set out on a very short ride close to home. We just wanted to feel the road rushing under our wheels. As we left Kent Island and checked MyRadar, it became clear that Mother Nature would prefer that we kept heading east. Who are we to argue with Momma N.? Louise texted her cousin and soon we were on our way towards Delaware.
A couple weather systems were conspiring to drench us, but we were having none of it. Brief glances at the radar gave us an idea which way to head to stay ahead of the downpours. We easily evaded the rain and had a nice visit with the peeps. Then we jumped back on the bike under sunny skies and headed west.
There’s an app that is as good (if not better in some ways) than MyRadar. It’s called My Eyes. As we pointed the front tire towards home, I saw a darkening sky before us. No problem, we got this. And we rode on. Into the storm(s).
Here Comes the Rain
We did our best to coordinate what we saw on the app with what we saw in the sky, and where we were with where we wanted to be. Home wasn’t in the cards right now. Again, converging storms seemed to know where we were supposed to be, so we obliged. And we found ourselves in Harrington, DE, in the parking lot of the Stargate Diner on US Rt. 13 as the first rainfall began. This should provide sufficient shelter from the storm, so we dismounted and made our way inside.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone
First appearances are important. Apparently our first appearance in the Stargate Diner was out of step with the expectations of those people already inside. As we crossed the threshold and entered the main lobby area, all voices quieted and all eyes turned – toward us. We were not soaking wet and and we didn’t have antennae growing from the tops of our heads… or did we? Whatever the reason, we were the center of the universe (their universe, anyway) for a minute. When that minute was over, we no longer mattered.
I was hungry and thankful to be in a dry place. I would have been content with anything at this point – iced tea, fries, soup, time to wait out the storm. Louise still had not come to grips with our ticker tape parade welcoming. So, we made our way to the front of the building, where donned our rain gear. Even though the bulk of the storm wasn’t completely upon us yet, the MyRadar app confirmed the light sprinkles coming down were just the beginning of something much greater. We jumped on the bike as the rain got heavier and we got wetter, minute-by-minute.
While I had been fiddling with radar on my phone, Louise had been thumbing through TripAdvisor on hers, looking for burgers. A place called Jeff’s Taproom & Grille, 13.5 miles to the south popped up with some good reviews, so off we went. And here came the storm.
Riding in the rain is not only uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. Visibility is severely reduced, traction is limited, breaking distance is increased, you get wet. And along with getting wet, comes the fogging of the goggles. As we rode along at a slower than normal pace, I had to constantly wipe my goggles with a wet-gloved hand to try and clear my view. What normally would be an 18-minute cruise down Rt 13, turned into a half-hour ride from hell.
We Made It
We finally reached our destination, Jeff’s Taproom and Grille. We parked the bike in the parking lot out back, and made our way inside (though a door that was also in the back). The door opened with a creak and we were no longer taking a shower. The entrance is a short hallway that opens up to the bar/restaurant area. Here, we paused and shook the water from our rain gear. The atmosphere seemed to change a bit, and we felt the now-familiar all-eyes-are-on-you feeling. Is this a Delaware thing or are we truly aliens?
From out of the moment of silence came a lone voice: “Is it raining, yet?” We laughed. They laughed. We all laughed. We were welcome here.
Along with a bowl of the richest French onion soup this side of Paris, we decided to split a Grilled Cheeseburger. Quoting the menu: “Why just have an ordinary roll?! Two pieces of Texas Toast and cheese make this burger an overstuffed grilled cheese!” We upgraded to Krinkle-Cut Fries for an extra 2 bucks.
The crowd at Jeff’s was a welcoming, friendly, comedic bunch who were as interested in us as we were in them. We found a friend in a guy named Clay – a wheel-chair-bound veteran who told us about his specially outfitted Sportster. He didn’t ride it today because of the rain. Duh.
By the way, the burger was so good, we made Jeff’s one of our go-to stops on bike rides with friends. We have been back a few more times, and we will be back many more. Rain or shine.