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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 01-04-05, 12:28 PM   #1
Daily Commute
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Who's a bigger fool. . .

On my way home yesterday along a riverside bike path, it was raining pretty hard in 55F weather. This was part of a quick warm up after a lot of snow and ice. I think you can see where this is going.

It was dark, and I noticed a little water on the path. But a couple hundred feet in front of me, I saw a blinkie moving forward. I assumed that the path was ridable at least to where the blinkie was. To go back would have been about a two mile diversion.

The water got deeper and deeper. I think it topped out at about where my bottom bracket was--it could have been as much as a foot deep. I could feel my panniers dragging in the water. It went on like that for 100-200 feet. Then, about 100 yards farther, I had another 50-100 foot stretch of deep water. I just kept thinking, "Keep moving forward, keep moving forward."

Fortunately, my Cross Check made it through, but I'm risking that kind of thing again. This bad decision could have had much, much worse consequences. On the plus side, I've been thinking about upgrading my crank and bottom bracket. This may move that decision from the "want" category to the "need" category.
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Old 01-04-05, 12:35 PM   #2
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Forgive my ignorance, but what were you worried could have happened? I have ridden through water that deep many times, but never knew I was running any risk greater than wet feet--or, worst case, riding off the river trail into the river. I assume you are talking about damage to the bike. Please enlighten me.
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Old 01-04-05, 12:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Roody
Forgive my ignorance, but what were you worried could have happened? I have ridden through water that deep many times, but never knew I was running any risk greater than wet feet--or, worst case, riding off the river trail into the river. I assume you are talking about damage to the bike. Please enlighten me.
Any time you go through flood water, you are taking a big risk. You don't know what's floating in the water. You don't know if you'll hit a sudden current. You also can't see the surface you're riding on, so you can't avoid hazards. And since it's river water, it can have all sorts of fun microbs (I showered as soon as I got home). As far as the equipment goes, I don't know if a few hundred feet of deep water is any worse than riding in heavy rain, but it can't be helpful.

In the end it was fun, but I still think it was a stupid risk.
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Old 01-04-05, 12:49 PM   #4
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Yeah--it is kinda fun. Once you start across deep water it's mentally (and sometimes physically) impossible to turn around. Some kind of explorer instinct seems to kick in, at least for me. I will be more cautious after reading your explanation. Come to think of it, I remember seeing news videos of even trucks getting washed away when they tried to ford a flooded road. What kind of shoes were you wearing? 55 deg. air temp is pretty cold when you are soaking wet, but the water temp must have been just above freezing! One nice thing about those wet/cold days is that you can count on having the river trail to yourself for once.
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Old 01-04-05, 12:56 PM   #5
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I had Shimano clipless touring shoes, light wool socks, and polypropylene booties. My feet got soaked, but they were fine warmth-wise. I also had bike shorts on, which meant that I didn't have long pants/tights to get waterlogged.

Roody mentions another risk--you never know when 3 inches will become 6 inches, when 6 inches will become 1 foot, when 1 foot will become 2 feet, etc., etc., etc. Given that it's hard to turn around, that's dangerous. Also, once you get through it, the path might be obstructed again farther up, but you may not be able to go back the way you came. This can become very hazardous, especially if the water is rising (which it was).

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Old 01-04-05, 04:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
The water got deeper and deeper. I think it topped out at about where my bottom bracket was--it could have been as much as a foot deep. I could feel my panniers dragging in the water. It went on like that for 100-200 feet. Then, about 100 yards farther, I had another 50-100 foot stretch of deep water. I just kept thinking, "Keep moving forward, keep moving forward."
i've done this a few times after a hard rain. there's a path nearby that goes down into a small valley and a river runs through it, so to speak. during a flood water is high for a km or so... and it is really, really, fun to ride through.. scary/fun... grin. i just make sure i'm keeping speed and going in a straight line..

sd
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Old 01-04-05, 07:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Daily Commute

...my bottom bracket was--it could have been as much as a foot deep...panniers dragging in the water. ... for 100-200 feet...100 yards farther,..another 50-100 foot stretch of deep water.

my Cross Check made it through, but I'm risking that kind of thing again. This bad decision could have had much, much worse consequences.
Good going! Hey you did the right thing instead of freak'n mid-stream. Your bike was semi-under control and next time you'll be better able to judge that section of the commute before moving forward.

You may want to take of the seat and tip the bike make sure it's fully dried out. Also be sure that the bike is fully greased including the BB.
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Old 01-04-05, 07:46 PM   #8
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it's bad on the bike, but can be fun at times. My record ankle deep....i wished I could have tried deeper.
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Old 01-04-05, 09:28 PM   #9
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Well, you never know (esp. in the dark) exactly how deep the stuff is...

I rode through a deep gullywasher one day, and it was warm water, but unfamiliar road. Afterwards, I realized there could have been anything under that water--pothole, etc.
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Old 01-05-05, 12:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Daily Commute
My feet got soaked, but they were fine warmth-wise.
Yeah the waterproof shoes or some sort of waterproof covering (on the outside) are an absolute must for winter riding. Esp weather changes from rain to windy and snowing.
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Old 01-05-05, 06:38 AM   #11
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Robert Hurst of "The Art of Urban Cycling" writes that cyclists should relish their road rash. The theory being that road rash is a low-cost, high-impact lesson on what not to do. That's how I view riding through the flood water.
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Old 01-05-05, 11:01 AM   #12
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Relish road rash? I don't think I could go that far! One nice thing about deep water (or snow, mud or even ice) is no road rash if you do wipe out. Other problems, maybe, but no road rash.
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Old 01-05-05, 11:16 AM   #13
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I checked. The exact quote is:
Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend.
Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it.
The point is that anytime you get road rash, you could have been hurt a lot worse. So you're lucky that your lesson in how-not-to-cycle was not more expensive. Here, my lesson in how-not-to-cycle was pretty darned cheap. I'm lucky.
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Old 01-05-05, 11:30 AM   #14
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Yes, it can be a wake-up call. The other good thing is that you get a lot of undeserved sympathy for road rash. That is, it might hurt some, but it doesn't hurt as bad as it looks!
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Old 01-05-05, 04:16 PM   #15
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I took the same path home tonight. There were a few inches of water, but I could see the ground. A wood chuck SWAM up to the edge of the path. That's another reason not to go through high water. Critters that usually walk or slither on the ground can swim up to you.

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Old 01-05-05, 08:36 PM   #16
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so uh.. how much wood would a....
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Old 01-05-05, 10:35 PM   #17
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Was he doin' the back stoke?
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Old 01-06-05, 11:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
I took the same path home tonight. There were a few inches of water, but I could see the ground. A wood chuck SWAM up to the edge of the path. That's another reason not to go through high water. Critters that usually walk or slither on the ground can swim up to you.
Guess you better get some floatation for that bike!
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Old 01-07-05, 02:44 PM   #19
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...I still think it was a stupid risk.
Yes, but you did it.

That all sounds like something out of a weird dream;
"the water's getting deeper but I'm going on anyway..."
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Old 01-07-05, 03:04 PM   #20
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In 1986 we had a big rainstorm in Montreal, that flooded most streets (some to a depth of 15'). Fortunately my route home didnt have any under passes, but the scariest thing was that many of the manhole covers had been forced up and washed away.
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Old 01-07-05, 04:17 PM   #21
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Once after a freak rain storm in boston, I was riding through some underpasses ( along mem. drive, for any bostonians) This water was deep, at least 18". It was fun. Pedaling when your feet are submerged under water is a new experience.
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