That night I opted to wear the Basegear as sleep wear, a wise choice as it got down to a temperature hostile to my California-bred body. Between the crashing thunder, the rain bucketing down on my tent and the mummy bag I'd borrowed for the trip (these things are designed by sadists, for use by masochists), there was some sleep. But only in fits.
The second day on the road would pose the most climate-related challenges. After a hamburger feast at K's Dairy Delite in Buena Vista (it's the kind of roadside burger stand that makes you thank God there are still roadside burger stands), we left 75-degree weather of the Arkansas River Valley and up to the 34-degree temps of Independence Pass (12,095 ft.).
For me, this was the benchmark for the level of comfort the TPG stuff provided. It was damn cold up there and the ride down and through Aspen into Glenwood Springs would be a real-world test that took us through a handful of miniclimates — cold sleet, a torrential downpour and back into 70-degree temps — all along one 60-or-so-mile stretch of highway.
On that long rainswept ride, about the only water I felt on my skin — anywhere on my body — was on my face, and it was coming through the vents on my Arai's face shield.
At the bottom, one of the other editors on the ride (Marty Estes of Source Interlink) remembered that he'd placed a couple of his business cards in the wrist pocket on his jacket. They were all dry.
We wrapped up the trip the next day, but not before a couple of haul-ass rides up and over McClure Pass, and then onto Kebler and Ohio passes, riding over some of the best unpaved roads I've ever ridden. Along these routes, we hit more of the same cold-then-hot-then-cold swings in temperature and the FirstGear stuff never missed a beat. Not at all.
Later that day, after rolling into Crested Butte to chow on what will forever be known as the Best Pizza on The Planet at a joint called the Secret Stash, I again surveyed all my riding gear. It was stinky and it was dirty, but what it was not — especially in places where it shouldn't be — wet. (Continued)