Just a few short weeks ago, I learned how to scuba dive (that too is another story, nearer the beginning than this one). At the time, I laughed out loud when my scuba diving instructor (Melly) put on a “dry suit” as opposed to a “wet suit”. As far as I am concerned, when I dive into water, I expect to get wet. Melly however, prefers to keep warm and dry at this time of the year so she dives with a thermal base layer and a dry suit. For those of you not familiar with the principles of wet or dry suits, a wet suit actually let’s water in between your skin and the suit. Your body then heats up the water in the wet suit which is insulted against the outside water meaning that you stay warmer than the surrounding water. A dry suit however means exactly that – you dive, fully submerged underwater, and you stay BONE DRY ………. a slightly strange concept to my mind – being fully submerged under water but completely dry at the same time, but then perhaps I just need to give it a go sometime, after all – Melly has been doing this for ages and it works for her.
Today however, I could have done with Melly’s dry suit on the motorbike! We started our ride in Lahr Germany, with big black clouds looming in the direction we were headed – Italy, via the Alps, by way of one of the high mountain passes (Timmelsjoch). As a result, we kitted up suitably with wet weather gear – jackets, gloves, trousers – all suitably waterproof, or so we thought.
There are lies, damn lies and then there is marketing (artistic license with the original quote). My “waterproof” over trousers supplied by Oxford clothing are marketed as “BONE DRY”. Not only does their logo boldly state this fact but the blurb on the trousers proceeds to wax lyrical about the kind of monsoons you will be able to endure while keeping your powder dry ………..
Today was a bit extreme mind you – of the 300 odd mile route that took us approx 9 hours in the saddle to complete (no lunch break and only one fuel and one pee stop for about 10 minutes each time), over 200 miles were in torrential rain – the kind of rain that generates rapids on the side of the road that adventure companies take people in a dinghy down white water rafting and things. The kind of rain that feels like hail at 50 miles an hour as it drives through every material known to man and makes a mockery of “BONE DRY” ……………yes, I needed that dry suit. And when the temperature dropped to 1.5 degrees centigrade just before the summit, as we drove through walls of snow and past frozen rivers where you could only occasionally see the raging waters beneath the sheets of ice, I have to say that I envied Melly and her thermals as the shivers of cold twisted through my body trying to force adrenaline to provide some essential warmth.
Unfortunately I did not stop for any photos today and the cold flattened the video camera batteries long before the summit. By that time I couldn’t care about documenting the trip visually – my bones had not been dry for 7 hours and I blame marketeers the world over for their damn lies!