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Biking in the Rain - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Biking in the Rain
Last night I noticed that a library book was due (overdue, to be precise), so I decided to ride my bike downtown and drop it off. On the way back, I could stop at the drugstore and pick up some cards.

It had been almost unbearably hot and humid all day, but the weather outside was beginning to cool a bit. I thought getting out and getting a breeze would be lovely. As I pulled out of my driveway, I saw the skies flash in the distance. "Hmm," thought I. "That might be a bad sign. Well we just had thunderstorms, surely we can't expect more."

I started pedaling, and a few minutes into the ride I felt drops of rain. "Yikes, I can't get my library book wet!" I started pedaling faster. Now that I am typing this story, I find myself wondering if I shouldn't have turned back rather than continued forward. I was only a few blocks from home. However there wasn't a whole lot of rain, and the library wasn't that far away, and my book was in a bag that could offer some protection -- I remained relatively confident that I could keep my book dry.

As I neared downtown, I saw an impressive bolt of lightening. Cool! Pedal faster. As I pulled up to the library, the rain was more serious about its precipitation, but still minimal. The book was dry, and I popped it into the book return box. Whew!

I then rode to CVS. I locked my bike under a tree and walked into the store. I was clearly rain-splattered, but not soaked (yet). (Oooh, forshadowing!)

I found some nice greeting cards, purchased them, and happily wrapped my satchel up in the plastic bag they gave me. Since I'd just been popping out for a quick ride through the neighborhood, I hadn't organized myself or brought any of my gear. I didn't have a waterproof bag, and I didn't have my helmet or sunglasses (which also have great rain lenses). I also didn't have my blinkey red light I wear on my back at dark, although I DID have my blinkey front white light.

No worries though, I was less than two miles from home. The rain was quite seriously coming down when I fetched my wet bike from underneath the unprotective tree. I turned on my light, pulled onto the quiet residential road that would get me home. The skies let loose. Within a few blocks, I was quite soaked! Without eye protection, the rain kept getting in my eyes and I couldn't see much. I came upon the solution of riding one-handed and holding my other hand over my eyes to block the rain. It worked quite well.

At first the ride was a bit nerve-wracking. However once I figured out how to protect my eyes so I could see again, and once I got wet enough that the rain no longer felt cold, it was really a lot of fun! I paid careful attention to cars, but there were almost none on the road. I got home safely, quickly, and easily. I found myself grinning at the entertainment of it all.

My book stayed dry, my purchases and satchel stayed dry, and I didn't get struck by lightening even once! It was good fun, although I didn't stay out any longer than it took to get from CVS to home. When I arrived, I tip-toed to the bathroom trying not to drip too badly through the house. I literally pealed myself out of my soaking clothes, then jumped into the shower to get wetter clean off and warm up.

An unplanned but exciting little adventure! I enjoyed it.

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Comments
From: writerwench Date: June 10th, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, what fun! My only reservation about rain-riding is that my bike brakes simply stop working once they're wet. Or, rather, they work at about 10% normal efficiency. That apart, it's great fun! I prefer to do it while wearing contacts though, as glasses are worse than useless in rain.
johnridley From: johnridley Date: June 10th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Go to the bike store and buy "Koolstop Salmon" brake pads. They work well in the wet (Koolstop is the brand, Salmon is the color/model). Unless, of course, you have an old bike with steel rims; in that case, there's no help for you, braking simply stinks with steel rims. It's one of many reasons why we don't use steel for rims anymore.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 10th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rain drops slamming into your eyeballs are worse than wet glasses! It was pretty bad until I used my hand - a brimmed hat would have worked too now that I think about it.

My cycling glasses have three kinds of lenses, smoke, clear, and a great orange pair which actually increase how much you can see in rain and cloudy conditions! They're cool.

Yes, I was extra-careful about the brakes, those can be scary, and I stayed away from busy roads.
jer_ From: jer_ Date: June 10th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't find mine.. but I had the same sorta setup.. and my amber/orange lenses were AWESOME in rain.

Rain riding (which I enjoy a great deal) was the main deciding factor in my purchase of disc brakes as opposed to cantilever... great stopping in the wet.
johnridley From: johnridley Date: June 10th, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Those big plastic bags that the postal delivery guys put stuff in when it's raining are the bomb for this. They make great pannier liners.

I love riding in the rain. Lightning doesn't bother me, the odds of getting hit are so close to zero I'm not sweating it. Wind can be an issue if it's really gusty.

It's amazing how many people see the rain and ask "how are you going to get home tonight?" "Uh, on my bike, same as I always do." They just can't fathom that anyone would get wet if there were any alternative at all. Apparently we've been replaced with a race of cat people who disdain water.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 10th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
When touring, I kept everything I owned in zip-lock 1-galleon bags. It's sooooo good to have dry clothes at the end of a wet ride.

Riding in cold rain can be depressing (although I'm guessing you have rain gear, which would help), and getting wet where I have no chance of drying off isn't too fun. Other than that, riding in the rain can be quite lovely!
jer_ From: jer_ Date: June 10th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I officially wish all stories that I read would issue a "oooh, foreshadowing" after they do so.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: June 10th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assume that was you bike with fenders?

I used to ride in the rain in my teens on a ten speed with no fenders and it was a challenge to always try and keep your front tire in line with your frame so you did not get sprayed. I also learned not to corner hard on wet pavement.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 10th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
No fenders, although I keep considering getting some....

There was really no way I could get wetter last night though, with or without tire spray.
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: June 10th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
and I didn't have my helmet

please please please do me a favor and *always* wear your helmet. even if you're going around the block. my friend Keith Alexander would likely still be alive had he been wearing a helmet when he swerved to avoid a kid.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bit of motorcycling lore that may be applicable:

"There is no such thing as 'bad weather'--there's just inadequate gear."
nishar From: nishar Date: June 10th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You only have to get hit by lightening once. Please don't ride out in electrical storms.
delosd From: delosd Date: June 10th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
"...and I didn't get struck by lightening even once!"

Now that's someone with a naturally optimistic outlook. :)
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