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BIKE-TO-BROWN Home

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BIKE-TO-BROWN  August 2005

BIKE-TO-BROWN August 2005

Subject:

Re: Rain by the bucketloads!

From:

"Rogers, Donald" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Rogers, Donald

Date:

Tue, 30 Aug 2005 09:50:54 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (66 lines)

> -----Original Message-----
> I hated not being able to ride in today. I'll have to get my 
> new home trainer out for a living room spin tonight! Soon we 
> will be talking about how to ride in rain. 

Some quick tips for rain riding:

When driving a car in heavy rain, most drivers worry about hydroplaning.
On a bike, this is not a problem because the tire contact patch is a
completely different shape (like a canoe) that cuts right through
standing water. No real issue there; if you have smooth bare wet
pavement, you can turn with confidence.

HOWEVER there are (at least) 3 big hazards to consider in the rain:

1. Standing water conceals what lies beneath. That small puddle up ahead
might have a deep wheel-eating pothole just under the surface. So to be
safe, avoid riding through water that you can't see to the bottom of,
and if you must ride through, then assume there are hazards underwater.
Get up off the saddle a bit, using your knees and elbows as shock
absorbers. If you do hit an unexpected bump or hole, the bike will be
less likely to suffer damage.

2. Some of the most treacherous surfaces to ride on are rain-soaked
painted road markings and metal surfaces like manhole covers and
railroad tracks. Treat even the smallest of these features like a patch
of greased ice. Try to go over them in a straight line, with the bike
fully upright. If you try to turn on these at speed, you will very
likely find the bike slide out from under you. If you must turn on them,
brake *before* you are on top of them to a reasonable speed, then turn
by keeping the bike as vertical as possible, carefully turning with the
handlebars and shifting your body weight (though *not* the bike itself)
in the direction of the turn.

3. In any rain, and especially heavy rain, drivers are already anxious
and over-stimulated. The effective road width is narrower due to
riverine road gutters. Visibility is way down. Both optically and
perceptually, drivers are *much* less likely to see you out there. So
you must be much more careful in your riding. Be very defensive, wear
day-glo clothing, use lights front and back even in the day, and yield
whenever there's a doubt. 

Comfort on the bike in the rain can be improved by wearing layers of
clothes (especially a lightweight wool or wicking base layer).
Waterproof clothes are not necessarily the best choice; they tend to let
heat and sweat build up. I'd rather be cool and rain-soaked than hot and
sweat-soaked. Breathable clothing, then, is usually a good choice. Some
people find their feet are very sensitive to being wet; these folks can
get neoprene booties or just wrap their feet in plastic newspaper bags
between their socks and their shoes. 

Waterproof bags or panniers, though, are pretty important to keep your
stuff dry. Though again, you can always pack your stuff into a plastic
grocery or trash bag inside your regular bag(s) if you need to.

Fenders help keep a lot of water off of you and your drivetrain, and
they certainly keep that stripe of dirty water off your back. 

Don

Bike to Brown discussion list:
http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/bike-to-brown.html

Bike to Brown website:
http://biketobrown.brown.edu/

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