Sunday, September 13, 2009
Ruminations About the Rain.
Tomorrow, if you choose to commute here in DFW, you are going to get wet. I recommend doing so!
If you have been commuting to work in the heat, then changing clothes at work is already part of your routine. Because of the mild temperatures, trying to avoid getting wet is a fool's game as any rain gear will just keep most of the clean water off you while you sweat like it is 100 degrees out.
I like the new synthetic "wicking" materials in warm weather rain. The rain just flows off you. Wet street clothes are much more abrasive in "high-friction" areas when they get wet. Do consider Lycra shorts in wet weather!
I also recommend wearing your oldest and most worn-out clothing in the rain. The passing motorists will send up into the air all manner of grime, and you will be covered in it. It will form a dingy grey grunge on all of your clothes, and it can be difficult to remove. (The enzyme based pre-wash treatments like Shout seem to be effective.)
Try as you might, your feet will get wet. This will be a problem in the cold storms of the coming winter, but this week I would just resign myself to wet feet and not mess with trying to keep them dry.
If you haven't ridden in the rain, here are some tips, and pardon me if I sound condescending, I am trying to cover all the bases here. No disrespect- There was a time I didn't know any of this either!
With caliper rim brakes, there will be a delay between application of the brakes and friction that gives deceleration. The wheel will often need one full turn to wipe away water before working. Expect and allow for this by planning your stops and slowing early.
Avoid puddles. All the potholes fill up with water and lurk around waiting to catch cyclists unawares, masquerading as benign puddles.
All manhole covers and railroad tracks are as slick as snot. Stay out of the motor oil "drip zone" in the center of travel lanes, especially at intersections. Be mindful of this when turning from one road onto another.
Fenders will make this week a lot nicer for bicycle commuters. Late in the week, even though it will be sunny days, the roads will still have water everywhere in your path. On those days, fenders expand your wardrobe options. Without them, you will have to stick to old ready to discard clothes, for they will all become stained. And even with fenders, your feet are likely to get wet all week.
I wear glasses, and often I will have better vision if I remove them in the rain, especially if I am getting a lot of spray from passing automobiles.
Automobile operators are having similar vision problems. Even if their wipers are in good shape, they will be peering through water doppled side windows when they are making crossing movements at intersections- the operationally most dangerous place for a law-abiding cyclist in good weather! Therefore, do run your lights in the rain, and expect to have more conflicts at intersections than normal. In fact leave more time for your commute. Rainy days are not days to be in a rush to get to the office.
The worst part is when you are just beginning your trip, and you are not yet completely drenched. Once you are as wet as you can be, it is rather exhilarating to ride in the rain. I do not think that riding in the rain is significantly more dangerous than riding in good weather. Both are safer than many of our other daily activities. (Like taking a shower, for instance.)
So get out there and do it! You cycled in during the hot summer weeks, show that you are not just a fair weather cyclist! It will also give you more confidence to keep cycling during the colder months ahead.
You will be glad you did!
Posted by Doohickie at 11:20 AM