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Old 08-26-14, 09:00 AM   #1
Copper_head
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Baptized LOL

First time since I was a kid on a Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat that I got stuck riding in a torrential downpour.
I had planned a new route for a ride that encompasses lots more road, less park-like bike paths, more straight and open canal roads. Rather then going out and back along one of the canals as I have been doing for the last two years, I am getting a little braver and planned this route which is a big loop. It was breezy and cooling rapidly last night but a I kept checking the weather radar for about 45 min. before I left, all the monsoon storms seemed to be staying 5-10 miles away from where I was headed and the forecast called for clearing so I decided to chance it. My new light has not arrived yet so I was on unfamiliar unlit roadways with a light that is on the sketchy side of adequate for seeing the road in front of you. All seemed to be going well, felt some minor precipitation, lightning all around the night sky, nice and cool. I have the new pedals sorted out, I was cruising comfortably faster than I ever have, probably had some wind on my back. I reached the furthest distance away from my home and made a turn onto a 6-7 mile stretch of unlit blacktop canal road. Just then the gusts really kicked up and I heard the vents in my helmet howling! I had to kick it down a couple gears with the wind hitting head on. The rain got to be just a little heavier but not unpleasant, with the wind it was like riding into a misting system. Then the thunder and lightning were directly overhead and it started raining a little harder, that's when I first thought I was going to get a little wet. The high winds kept up, I could barely see in front of me as the rain really started to pour horizontally straight into my face. Then the hail started, stinging my lips a little. Every time it seemed like it would let up a bit, I could hear the wind whipping through the trees ahead of me and another deluge would hit, mile after mile. It finally slowed to a slight drizzle as I was about 50 yards from emerging from total darkness on to a lit road that I would take back to my home about 2 miles away! Still averaged 16.1 mph for the ride.
Here are some observations I had about the experience.

1) I really seem to cruise faster on open roads and asphalt than on the paved concrete canal paths. Psychological because it's more open? Rolling resistance on asphalt is better than smooth concrete? Unknowingly had a good breeze on my back for half of the loop?

2) Why is it harder to read road signs at night going 20 mph on bicycle than it is going 45 in a car? Headlights? Angle of view?

3) Just got these great bike shoes. Hope the water doesn't ruin them. You would think this possibility is taken into account in an expensive road shoe.

4) Regular brakes work fine underwater. Just the first full rotation is a little sketchy as the water sloughs off the rim but then they grip almost normal. Even if I had to ride in the wet all the time I probably wouldn't be too concerned about getting disc brakes.

5) Cateye bike computer did not like the water and reset the trip somewhere in the middle of the heaviest rain. Cateye lights worked fine and did not drown.

6) If I do any more of this AquaMan riding routine I'm going to need fenders. The front tire pitched a vertical fountain hindering my already questionable view of the road. The rear tire packed mud through the middle gap in my seat, and a left a muddy brown stripe all the way up my back. Obviously my shirt and helmet were mostly flushed clean, but the mud had been absorbed into the chamois and it looked as if I had elimination issues on the road.... Nice.

7) I did not have any traction or slipping problems with the smooth 700x25 tires.

8) Even though it was night I'm so glad I've been accustomed to using eye protection in the form of shooting glasses to fend of tree branches. The eyewear was crucial last night, I could feel and hear the hail plinking off the lenses.

9) I wiped the bike down well and used compressed air to blow out water from the brake levers and shifters, derailluers, pedals. Hope this is good enough so nothing rusts.

"It's A Dry Heat" LOL
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Old 08-26-14, 03:13 PM   #2
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Admit it! You had fun, didn't you?
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Old 08-26-14, 03:37 PM   #3
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LOL!!!
First it was like, "OK this is fine...." and as it got a little harder "Meh... this will blow over.." then as it started to pour "OH GOD NOOOOOOO" then when it started to hail "REALLY??!?!?!?!" at one point I was yelling at the sky... but after the hail stopped and it was just pouring, and it appeared as if there were no additional hazards like deep puddles or more than one or two downed branches, it was kinda like swimming. Nothing else I could do as I was already soaked and it wasn't cold rain, had to be 80 outside, so ya once I accepted the situation it was a fun challenge for a few miles! ;D
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Old 08-27-14, 08:00 AM   #4
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Looks like my shoes dried out OK. I wouldn't recommend using them in the pool, but they appear to have withstood the drenching.
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Old 08-27-14, 08:19 AM   #5
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During a 3-day ride I do every fall, we had a hailstorm pop up. Temp dropped from 72 to 45 in about 5 minutes, then the hail turned to torrential rain. I was about 25 miles in on a 55 mile day to get tot the camp we stay at. Roads flooded badly. One spot in a place called Pleasant Bay had puddles up to my bottom bracket. The same ride has been plagued with bad weather- the end of Hurricane Season here in New England, and anything can happen. Last year was the first time in the past 20 that we had 3 good days. Makes for great stories when you talk to fair weather cyclists, or non-cyclists. But if it was really that horrible, I guess we wouldn't keep doing the ride now, would we?
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Old 08-28-14, 12:00 PM   #6
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Fortunately the lightning was the most active about the time I was approaching a rail crossing so I was able to see clear enough to negotiate it without incident.
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Old 08-28-14, 12:50 PM   #7
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Turn around, don't drown

That's the phrase that ends all of the National Weather Service flood watches and flood warnings here in the Southwest. They even have billboards with a similar message. It is a warning to drivers to avoid water running across roads during and after a summer rainstorm. It is not smart to go riding when you know thunderstorms are nearby. It is even less smart when it is getting dark outside and you can't judge the depth of water. If flash floods can sweep away a multi-ton vehicle what will they do to a guy on a bike? It doesn't take many inches of water to sweep you away.

The monsoon rains have been particularly devastating this year in Arizona and New Mexico. I'm surprised they even let you ride along the "canals" which are really flood control devices when it is raining in the summer. We have many bike paths in my area that run alongside and across washes. All it takes is a look at the debris deposited on these paths after a modest rain to know you don't want to be anywhere near them when it is raining. Same goes for rural roads where water crosses the road.

29 years living in the desert and I have seen it all
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Old 08-28-14, 01:51 PM   #8
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"I'm surprised they even let you ride along the "canals" which are really flood control devices when it is raining in the summer"

NOPE!!

I too have lived in this area for 29 years. The East Valley Gilbert/Chandler communities have undergone extensive retention basin engineering in the form of green belts, parks etc. These canals that I speak of are not a part of the flood control system, contrarily they are actually high points elevation-wise, as they are our fresh water supply, most definitely NOT flood control. Please research "Central Arizona Project" and "Salt River Project" for details. They were constructed in such a fashion to specifically prevent runoff from contaminating the city potable water. The worst floods I've seen in the area were 20-ish years ago when the Salt River washed out the I-10 bridge and the Gila River washed out another I-10 bridge and Hwy 87 as well. Whitlow Dam on the Queen Creek was nearly full! The canal system was not threatened nor did they overflow. The canals are constructed out of concrete whereas the washes are natural geological features. Please fact check.


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