The rain just got worse and worse. Then it got a lot colder. The windbreaker I had was soaked within a few minutes and then a few minutes later I could feel icy cold water all over my chest. Had to pull over to remove the camera and phone that were in my jacket pockets and stuffed them into my (thank god!) waterproof Kriega.
I wanted to snap a few shots--and probably should have, but I was getting drenched just standing there and kind of wanted working electronics when I was through with this.
If I could have taken a picture from inside my helmet, it would have been close to this:
Unfortunately I still had ~150 miles to go. I was cold, but other than general discomfort it was tolerable. And then the wind started. And by wind, I don't mean a gentle breeze. The water spray from cars and trucks were perpendicular to the flow of traffic and perpendicular to my direction of travel, which meant I was probably driving at a good 7 degree angle just to maintain a straight line. Somewhere during it all I actually saw a group of motorcyclists huddled together under an overpass. It gave me some pleasure to know that a guy they all probably would refer to as a Squid was going straight into the heart of the storm.
And then the hail started. And then the GUSTS of wind. A combination of the wind, my light bike and a slick freeway that was now a 1" deep black ribbon swimming pool I had to fight to stay on the road. A couple times I almost got blown into the giant sand-pylons on the side of the highway and passing trucks was like being sucked into a vacuum.
Having some experience with wind gusts I knew there was only one thing I could do to stay more stable: speed up. The rotational inertia of wheels help to stabilize the bike and so I kept it between 95 and 110. It must have looked suicidal as I blasted by drivers, but the bike was far easier to control--and of course it reduced the duration of my exposure to the wind and cold. Not sure what the windchill factor was, but the Panigale's water temp was 134.
Due to my best attempts, there still were two or three points during the ride in which the force of the wind, combined with hydroplaning (or just outright slides) caused me to reevaluate the speeds I was going. But the guru dude's advice at the beginning trip was all I could hear in my head ("Right here, right now. Nothing else matters.")
Around 20 miles from Grand Junction the pissing stopped and for once the heat of the seat felt great. Those dudes under the bridge may have stayed safer, warmer and dryer, but they still had at least another couple hours cuddling up together!