Friday, October 2, 2009

It's The Light Rain That'll Getchya

You never know how the weather conditions are going to affect your ride. Just a couple weeks ago I rode through pouring rain without incident except for that one submerged pothole. On this morning's ride, the roads were wet from a light rain. I braked going down the hill on Mayfair (just before you get to the WA State DOT building) and eased through the left turn at the bottom of the hill. Well, at least I thought I eased.

Near the end of the turn the rear tire acted like it didn't get the message that the turn was over. As if in slow motion it slid out to my right. I think time slows down in times like these just so it can make sure you know you are totally helpless to do anything about what's going to happen. The rear tire continued sliding--insert low frequency voiced "No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o" here--and I went down on my left side. And then I slid on the asphalt for about 10 feet.

I jumped right up and looked around to see if anyone saw me. Whew! No Nelson Muntz-like "Haw-haw!" to be heard. Then I took stock of what hurts and how bad. Since it was a cool morning, I was wearing my running gloves instead of my padded fingerless biking gloves. The asphalt wore a neat hole through my glove and the heel of my left hand. My left hip and knee felt like they were road rashed, but the bike tights were intact and I didn't see anything seeping through. My left shoulder was a little sore. So on I went. Once at work I hit the shower and discovered bright red strawberries on my hip and knee. So while I still got the road rash, the lycra saved me from having to pick out bits of embedded debris. I'm not posting pictures since some might consider it gross.

But that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

Since I'm on the subject, this is an opportunity to tell another story about being done in by a light rain. About four or five years ago the city applied a fresh coat of oil on Wall St from County Homes Blvd southward to a point just shy of where Wall and Monroe intersect. My commute route back then followed Post, Wall, and Waikiki. I was homeward bound and the partly sunny sky had a couple of dark clouds in it. One of them gave a light dousing to my route. I usually ride as fast as I can and was already doing about 20mph when I started my descent on Wall towards Cascade. The road was rutted at the time and I noticed beads of water sitting on top of the freshly applied oil. The light at Cascade changed to yellow so I thought I'd better slow down before I got there.

But before I could apply my brakes, my bike zipped out from under me. I think I caught the side of a rut. I landed on my hip and now I'm sliding at a pretty good clip on a freshly oiled road with a nice coat of water on it. Since I was wearing padded lycra shorts I figured I might as well use the padding so I sat up. There I was, facing backwards while sliding down Wall on my butt with my bike following. It slowed and stopped but I continued on my nearly frictionless slide. I watched all the cars behind me (in front of me?) come to a stop and after what seemed like an eternity, I finally came to a halt. Given that I'd just slid on my butt for about 100 feet I was afraid to stand up because I thought my butt cheeks were going to look like hamburger meat. But there was no pain so I got up and took a look. The shorts were intact except for a couple of threads on one seam. I walked back up the hill and retrieved my bike. It was fine, too, and I finished the ride home without further incident.

So watch out for those light rains.


Lucas said...

I am so paranoid about my bike coming out from under me like that. I recently had to take my bike in to the shop so I could get extra rack rails put on because my panniers were causing the rear end to be really wobbly with all the "just in case" rain and cold gear I have to tote to work now. I was worried I would get into a situation with wet roads or pine needles (especially coming down the hill in Shiloh to Magnesium) where the rear rack wobbled a bit and caused the bike to slide out from under me.

Glad you are okay.

Shan said...

Phew! Sorry you're hurting, but glad you're okay. The visuals from that second story were cracking me up.