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