Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Rainy Ruminations

After reading ChipSeal's ruminations on the riding in the rain and the ensuing discussion Sunday night, I decided that no amount of rain was going to keep me from riding Monday. I woke to the sound of a steady downpour on the roof, took my shower, ate, and steeled myself for the ride. I stepped out the door and... the rain had stopped, leaving me with wet roads and misty conditions. I decided to take a few pics along the way with my Crappy Cellphone Camera™. When I started it was dark. Lucky I had my blinkies on to make sure cars could see me.....?

Despite my desire to be a proper vehicular cyclist, I admit that I cut through a parking lot shortly after leaving home. The compelling reason I keep doing this is that if I stuck to the road I would get stuck at a left turn lane that just doesn't trip if there are no cars around. Anyway, looking across the parking lot to the Sonic Drive-In:

No, this isn't surreal art; this is the view coming up to a car at a red light. If you squint you can make out my handlebars in the foreground.

Here's proof it was me taking the pictures.

I kind of gave up on the pictures for a while; cutting through the neighborhoods it was just too dark for the CCC™ to get a good picture. I finally came out at a busy intersection. The glare ChipSeal mentions is pretty apparent; that big red blotch at the bottom is the reflection of the red light on the wet ground.

Checking for traffic before making my right turn. This is the spot where I asked about how to make a left turn from a busy street, for which ChipSeal gave me advice. I turn right at this light, then left at the next one.

Riding in the left lane of Hulen Street going 10 mph.

Cutting through another parking lot. OH NOEZ!

Finally, coasting down Hooters Hill into the office. Weee!

After work, it alternated between mist, drizzle and light rain. With temps in the 70s it was rather pleasant actually. I tried some hardcore vehicular cycling under rainy conditions. I was treated quite well by the cars; they probably felt sorry for me. This is at Bryant Irvin and I-20, a busy intersection in the middle of a busy retail area.

Just before the light turned green, an ambulance flew through the intersection, lights and siren going!

Getting ready to turn at a double left turn lane.

Cruising down Overton Ridge after the turn.

Getting ready for another left turn, this time onto Hulen. The reason I'm mentioning streets, by the way, is so people familiar with Fort Worth can see that vehicular cycling on some of the busiest streets in town is not only possible, but safe, too.

Although it looks like this truck is cutting me off, he was actually stationary as I approached from the rear. He had just moved over to the right lane to make a right turn, but because there are train tracks ahead he didn't have enough room to squeeze into the lane.

Much of the rest of the ride was through neighborhood streets.

I hate speed bumps.

A little lighter out than it was in the morning.... yeah, it really is me.

People Power!!!

One more stretch on busy streets.

The Sonic Drive-In near home.

And the American flag at the other end of the parking lot. Note I'm not cutting through the lot this way; no reason to.

The left turn onto my street.

Almost home.

Home sweet home.

My trusty steed.


Steve A said...

You need to SMILE when you take a self portrait! Otherwise, nice post and there's not really any need to feel guilty about parking lots. They're no worse than Luke Skywalker encountering Jabba the Hut.

Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've made a parking lot post...

Doohickie said...

You need to SMILE when you take a self portrait!

But cycling is hard work!

ChipSeal said...

If it weren't hard work, more people would do it!

That was a great photo essay! I am glad you took the time to create it!

I am wondering about some of the missing details that may help folks who are considering earning boasting right with wet weather commutes. For instance, when it wasn't raining, was the mist from traffic or the sky, and how wet did you get?

Were your feet splashed in puddles? Did you take any extra steps with your bicycle when you put it in the barn at the end of the day? How did your clothes fare in the road spray? How's that mirror do in those conditions? Any other adjustments from your normal routine? Was it fun? How does it make you feel about attempting a commute in a real downpour?

All in all, a good ride and a great report! Thank you Doohickie.

Keri said...

cool pics!

I like #5.

Looks like a painting.

Doohickie said...

Good questions, ChipSeal. I thought the post was already too long, so I just talked to the pictures.

When it wasn't raining, was the mist from traffic or the sky, and how wet did you get?
Mostly traffic, although it was precipitating most of the ride home. Oddly, I got wet on top (nylon windbreaker), and my legs were just the least bit damp. The fenders worked wonderfully.

Were your feet splashed in puddles?
Again... fenders. The outsides of my shoes were damp, and that was all. I was really pretty shocked.

Did you take any extra steps with your bicycle when you put it in the barn at the end of the day?
Sadly... no. I need to lube the rear derailleur; it was a little sluggish while I was riding today.

How did your clothes fare in the road spray?
Fine. Like I said, my windbreaker was wet from the rain/mist. My t-shirt underneath was wet from sweat. The windbreaker, oddly enough, felt good even though it was wet. Just the right amount of cooling on my arms with the wet nylon. Another 5 or 10 degrees cooler would have been too cold though (i.e., I would need a long-sleeve shirt underneath).

How's that mirror do in those conditions?
It misted up, but I could still use it. I didn't trust it as much though because I was afraid I might miss something. More head checks. No problems.

Any other adjustments from your normal routine?
I carried an extra pair of shoes (although they turned out to not be necessary), and I them in a plastic bag. I put my clothes in a plastic bag too, and also my wallet, keys, etc., in a zip-lock.

Was it fun?
Gawd, yes. I almost regretted arriving home. It was one of the best rides I've had in weeks. Note that I am very cautious on curves in wet conditions; I am not a speed demon. I don't want to fall and go boom.

How does it make you feel about attempting a commute in a real downpour?
That is so dependent on temperature, but I would hesitate to ride in a heavy morning downpour. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, but it would be easier to just drive, you know? But commuting is like this: You are constantly expanding your envelope. At first I didn't want to ride in the dark, now, no problem. Then I didn't want to ride if it was too cold, but adjusted to that (to a point... so far I've ridding as low as 17*F). The rain thing is the same idea. It might be outside my envelope, but eventually I would expand into it.

The one thing I can't see doing is riding in a thunderstorm.

bikenoob said...

Doohickie, really enjoyed this post. I avoid riding in the rain as much as I can. Maybe I should dust off the old mountain bike and get it out there.

Chandra said...

Nice job, nice descriptions, nice photos!

Where is the mustache in the foto?

I love that sticker on the helmet!

Peace :)

Steve A said...

It didn't seem as much fun as your photos made it look. I guess I'm "just a fair weather cyclist" at heart.

Running through puddles is still a lot of fun when one has fenders on, however...

Doohickie said...

I had an off-site meeting in the middle of the day today, had to run some errands on the way home, and had to be at a meeting this evening, so I decided to drive instead of ride.

When I ran into showers on the way home, I was actually disappointed I wasn't out on the bike!

Velouria said...

My goodness, you got SKILLZ!

Doohickie said...

Actually, I got WET.

Six said...

Nice Doohickie. Fenders apparently really are our friends.
I admit to being a weather wuss. I'm absolutely positive that rain would melt my bicycle and probably my shoes leaving me to walk home with 2 soakers.

Doohickie said...

It'll take more than a few showers to dissolve that old Schwinn you're working on!

Anonymous said...

Nice pics. I'll have to take a few and post on the LM Bike to Work site. Awesome.