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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-07-06, 03:53 PM   #1
grolby
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Rain ride #1!

Okay, today wasn't my first commute in the rain. I've ridden in some pretty heavy rain to classes, back when I lived on my university campus. I even had one or two lightly drizzling rides back when I commuted 11 miles two days a week to a part-time job a year or so ago. But today was the first time I really had to put my rainy day plans to the test. I'm taking summer classes at my university, while living four miles off-campus. To add to the fun, I had to make the commute twice today, once in the early morning so that I could help produce a radio show from 6-8, then back to get my school supplies and back out to school and back. For the first ride, I took my nice touring bike, since it was kind of dark and I wanted some lights. For the second ride, I took my "new" commuter bike, which is really an old Schwinn Le Tour "III-speed." It now wears flat bars and a three-speed Sturmey wheel, hence the name.

My clothing choices seemed to be right on the money. I stayed warm but not too warm. I got very wet, especially during the second commute when it was raining harder each way, but I stayed warm and comfy. The touring bike was of course fast and comfy, with low gears that easily flattened the reasonably large hill that I have to climb if I take the shortcut through the campus of a local private college. The new commuter was lots of fun. The gear ratios seem just about perfect for the riding I have to do through the rolling hills in the area where I live. They're a bit high for that hill, though, so I took the long way around, adding a few minutes but avoiding the steepest part of the hill. Unfortunately, this made me get to my class only just in time, so I had to go to the classroom before changing out of my wet and incredibly dorky-looking riding clothes. The new bike rides well, but I didn't tighten the axle nuts enough before riding, resulting in the wheel slipping and rubbing against the frame (and in the hub adjustment going way off, grrr) before I stopped by the LBS on the way home to fix it. The saddle is also WAY too hard for the more upright position I ride in on this bike, but maybe I'll get used to it. Also, plain rubber block pedals rule for commuting short distances.

I learned some interesting things today:
1. Slick tires kick up a LOT more spray on pavement than knobbies. Makes sense when you think about it.
2. A knobby front tire at low pressure soaks up bumps and turns the short section on a dirt and gravel road from a jumpy, bumpy ride into a smooth-as-silk experience.
3. There's something deeply reassuring about the steady "tick-tick-tick-tick-tick" of a Sturmey-Archer hub coming through the sound of rubber on wet asphalt and rain in the trees along the MUP. It's a nice combination of the natural, wild and fearsome with the mechanical steadfastness of a good bike and hub. It made for a very pleasant ride. I've heard people complain about the ticking noises that gear hubs make. Me, I really like that feature. I also like the look and feel of a straight chainline. I'm even more convinced that I want to build a commuter with a Nexus 8 hub now.
4. 8 miles of riding in the rain will make you wet. Another 8 miles of riding in the rain will make you REALLY wet! Still, I'm better adjusted than I was a few months ago. Wet is good!

Anyone else have some good rainy rides lately?
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Old 06-07-06, 04:18 PM   #2
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Have you looked at a waterproof windbreaker type jacket? I had a drizzley commute today, and with that jacket I stayed nice and dry. Well, my shorts got wet.
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Old 06-07-06, 04:20 PM   #3
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Thats what I like about 700x23c tires. They really dont splash at all. I dont even think my shoes have gotten wet before...
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Old 06-07-06, 04:29 PM   #4
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Fenders. I don't know why they even sell bikes without fenders. I wouldn't own a commuting bike without fenders and mudflaps (home made).
When it's warm I just let it rain on me, but when it's cold, my waterproof/breathable jacket from bicycleclothing.com makes me happy.
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Old 06-07-06, 04:31 PM   #5
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I did a 30 mile ride in the pouring rain the other Saturday morning. Semi-cold ('bout 50 deg) and a tad windy. I kept telling myself that those guys that pass me on the two mile steep hill my weekday commute has would surely be home in bed sleeping, so I was getting one up on them!

The only thing that really bugged me was the rain on my glasses, and my feet were totally soaked. I was a wet rat through and through - but you know what? I loved all of it!

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Old 06-07-06, 06:10 PM   #6
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I've actually ridden through a couple downpours on the 3-speed recently. The brakes didn't slip as much as usual so I was happy enough - about two years ago I got caught in the rain and couldn't slow down at all going downhill on the same bike. Had a light jacket, but was wearing jeans (bad idea for any weather on a bike) was perfectly dry except my legs, I really enjoy a rainy ride so long as it doesn't bring obscene winds along with it.
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Old 06-07-06, 08:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Fenders. I don't know why they even sell bikes without fenders. I wouldn't own a commuting bike without fenders and mudflaps (home made).
When it's warm I just let it rain on me, but when it's cold, my waterproof/breathable jacket from bicycleclothing.com makes me happy.
But of course! Both of my bikes have fenders, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Mudflaps, though, should be my next project. I was amazed by how much water was flung back by my roomie's bike, and how far it went.

As for the nice waterproof rain jacket, it would be wonderful... but these things cost money, of which I am desperately short for the moment. Perhaps another season. For now, let it rain down on me .
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Old 06-07-06, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Fenders. I don't know why they even sell bikes without fenders. I wouldn't own a commuting bike without fenders and mudflaps (home made).
When it's warm I just let it rain on me, but when it's cold, my waterproof/breathable jacket from bicycleclothing.com makes me happy.
As I understand, from a guy who spends a lot of time there, it's required by law that bikes in Holland be sold with fenders and a rear rack.

The ******* who began designing bikes that are UNABLE to take fenders at all needs to be taken out back and shot.
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Old 06-07-06, 08:43 PM   #9
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Well, if you want, I can send you a spare rainjacket I have. Of course, I'm crazy busy, so I will get it to you when I can. Sorry... but I'll really try to get it to you soon.

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Old 06-07-06, 08:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koffee brown
Well, if you want, I can send you a spare rainjacket I have. Of course, I'm crazy busy, so I will get it to you when I can. Sorry... but I'll really try to get it to you soon.

Koffee
Hey, if it'll fit a smallish guy like me and you're really cool with parting with it for free, I would be happy to take you up on that! It's very generous of you, thanks. You've got a PM .
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Old 06-08-06, 03:33 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Neist
Thats what I like about 700x23c tires. They really dont splash at all. I dont even think my shoes have gotten wet before...
First, 'Neist', I only ride with 700x23c tires and have gotten splashed on plenty. Second, you're really pissing me off! On another thread you state you've never gotten a flat, now your saying you've never even gotten your shoes wet. Do your tires ever touch the road or does your bike float above the surface?

Last edited by EGreen; 06-08-06 at 03:44 AM.
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Old 06-08-06, 11:17 AM   #12
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Cool.

I always say that commuting in the rain intentionally is a mental milestone. Once you're cool with it, you gain a whole new level of confidence in cycling.

Interesting tire comments. I had always assumed (incorrectly) that a good tread would displace water better, giving you a better grip on the road. Turns out, a skinny road tire's contact patch isn't affected by tread (like a car), and isn't prone to hydroplaning. I currently ride Michellin TransWorld City 28's, and plan on getting something without tread for my next pair. I can imagine that slicks create a bigger "rooster tail", but full fenders make that a non-issue. The only tires I can imagine that don't throw water are tires that are not moving, like when in a garage.
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Old 06-08-06, 12:28 PM   #13
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Bootie Ride

I had my first rain ride with my new booties from Bellwether, they worked like a charm.

I was tired of taking my fenders off and on with the rain in Boston this spring so I am just running a rear clip on fender now, with the booties your feet stay nice and dry.

What a luxury.
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