Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bike Girl Gets Wet

Photo by woodmanlroc

After completing a month without driving her car even once, Bike Girl is considering the feasibility of staying car free for the other 11/12's of the year.

When considering situations where Bike Girl would use a car, only a few situations immediately come to mind. The main one being, when it rains.

If Bike Girl wanted volatile weather, she would have moved to a different latitude. But since occasionally it does rain in Southern California, the ever solutions-oriented Bike Girl has found some tips to help her, and her loyal readers, in the event of showers.

1. Get Some Fenders - Bike Girl does not currently own any fenders, but is considering purchasing some. She's told that easy-on, easy-off plastic fenders can be purchased.

2. Avoid Puddles - A puddle can hide a pot hole. In Los Angeles, these road hazards tend to be deep and frequent. Be mindful of the road ahead of you and if a puddle is coming up, safely check for cars and ride around it. Luckily, cyclists don't have to worry about hydroplaning like cars do, because our wheels are so thin.

3. Slow Down - Stopping distance is greatly increased in the rain. Wet brake pads don't grip wet rims very well. Bike Girl has found that pumping her brakes creates some friction which dries them out enough for her to stop more quickly.

4. Get Lights - Bright ones. Bike Girl loves her Night Rider. She also uses two rear red blinkies. Drivers in Southern California can't deal with precipitation. They're even less likely to see you. Put those lights on in the rain, even if it's high noon.

5. Cover Your Seat - Bike Girl parks her bike inside, so this isn't an issue. But if your workplace forces you to park on the street, a bag or shower cap over the saddle can keep your pants from looking like you had an "accident."

6. Mix Your Transit - Taking the train or bus part-way is a good way to be out of the weather. The only problem here is that others will likely do the same. This can cause problems if the bike rack on a bus is full. A frequent Bike Girl commenter loves Folding Bikes. Bike Girl thinks this is one of the times foldies are FTW.

7. Lock Smart - If you lock your bike outside in the rain, arrange the lock so the key-hole points down. That way, water won't collect inside and rust it up.

8. Dress Appropriately - In Copenhagen, cyclists carry umbrellas in the rain. Bike Girl does not think she's coordinated enough for that. She plans to wear her Foul-Weather-Gear and a cycling cap to keep dry.

9. Lube - Lube your chain once the rain stops. It's important.

These of course are only suggestions. Bike Girl has survived riding in the rain without any of these items or taking any of these precautions. Most recently, she may or may not have been seen riding under-dressed on a barely functional rusty bicycle with no stylish umbrella in a different latitude. She is happy to report that she turned out just fine.


Anonymous said...

If your bike can fit full fenders, get them. Really. I know that it might seem like a waste of money because it so rarely rains in LA, but if you use full fenders with a mudflap, your feet will stay dry. The SKS fender that you linked to is good at keeping your butt dry, but if you don't want to bother changing your shoes, socks and pants once you arrive at work, full fenders are the way to go.

Alex said...

there's a cheap hack for making your own rear fender with a piece of plexi:

disgruntled said...

I saw a courier in London who had improvised a fender (mudguard) for the back wheel by sawing a plastic bottle in half and then jamming the neck of the bottle into the frame. It looked dead cool but then he was a courier...

cvj said...

Whoo-hoo! Thanks for mentioning folders positively. Everyone should give one (a good one) a try!



David said...

I'll second the "Girl, get some fenders," comment. When you're riding in all but the hardest of rains, 90% of the water that comes at you comes from the ground. Not only that, but all the other stuff on the road too: dirt, sand, chicken bones... rain or no.

Also, nice long fenders protect the person riding behind you - a courtesy to be sure, and keep your bike clean. No one tells you this, but fenders will likely increase the lifespan of your drivetrain components two-fold. They pay for themselves!

They can also look good, see

SEO BRO said...

avoid puddles... how true... There are a few big ones where I live. Mostly, I like the fresh air when I ride.

William/The Author Of * said...

May we have another "Hank and Me"?
I feel a loss not having her adventures anymore on being carfree. I hope you can make it and I hope she hasn't 'fallen off the wagon'.

Anonymous said...

post more.

jhaygood said...

I'm here in L.A. too (wife and I rode the kids to school yesterday, as usual, in yesterday's downpour. Got to see which rain gear worked...)

I find pulling up the hood on my rain coat and THEN putting on the helmet actually works pretty well. Give that a go.

We had fun yesterday. Of course the usual from the other parents ("I can't believe you still rode in today!"), but it was really fun. I mean, life can get pretty routine (maybe that's more true for us with kids) and it just felt like a bit of adventure. So now we scoff at the rain!

Tay said...

Those were excellent tips. I used to live in south Florida and got caught on my bike in torrential downpours pretty regularly in the summer. Not fun. Now I live in southern AZ where it never rains. Really.