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Here in Victoria, British Columbia, we’ve had a rather late summer. Which is to say it didn’t arrive before September. Now, in the midst of a glorious heat-wave, I am here to screeeeetch that needle across your favourite LP and bring you back down to earth. (And if you get the LP reference, you and I share a timeline!)

Not to piss on your parade. For the skies will be doing that soon enough. This glorious weather, like all good things must, shall end.

And the only thing worse than negative thinking is being unprepared for the onslaught of the season’s first heavy rainfall.

If you want to stay upright, take note of the following luck seven.

  1. Check your tire treads NOW. The main function of the treads in your tires is NOT to “grip” the road; it is to channel the water away. Hydroplaning (when a vehicle looses contact with the pavement and slides over top on the water) is freaky when you’re in a car. It’s deadly when you’re on a motorcycle.
  2. Pull over and wait it out. Have you heard of the phrase “lift and separate”? That is what the first 20 minutes of rainfall does to the oil on the road: the rain lifts up the oil and flows it to the curb. After a long dry spell, make it a practice to sit out the first 20 to 30 minutes of a rain fall (if not longer). Stay under the bridge, pull over and stop at that cafe, take an extra long pee break at the gas station. Whatever it takes.
  3. Go around puddles and potholes. The rationale here is simple: if you can’t see the bottom of it, you don’t know what’s in it or how deep it is. While it may remind you of those joyful childhood bicycle romps, wide-legged, frolicking through the puddles, it’s not the same. Different stakes. Plus your steel-and-gas adult-bike is waay harder (and probably farther) to push home than your aluminum kid-bike.
  4. Avoid all slippery surfaces. Wet steel is dangerously slippery. This includes manhole covers (politically correct, “service covers” though something about covering that manhole appeals to me) and railroad tracks. Wooden bridges cannot be avoided, especially when they appear right there in front of you, so slow down before you make contact, and maintain a steady speed as you cross. Same applies to steel-grated bridges: slow down and keep her steady while crossing.
  5. Adjust your helmet. If you’re wearing a full-faced helmet, remember to close the upper vents and open the chin vent. Closed upper vents will keep your head dry; open lower vent will keep your visor from fogging up. If you’re wearing a beanie, double wrap that bandanna around your face and suck it up princess. Oops. My damn bias is showing again.
  6. Gear up. If you’re like me, the weather forecast network is your bible. If there’s any rain anticipated, be sure to pack your rain gear. Ideally, you’ll have something with a high collar and snug wrist wraps to keep the water from seeping in. I’m like a cat, where if I get wet, I get grumpy. But even if you’re more dog-like and love the water, getting wet means getting cold, and being cold reduces your reaction time. Which can suck when you really need it.
  7. Slow down! This one’s self-explanatory. Figure it out.
Okay. There it is. Now to run out and play while the weather is still good. Happy riding folks.

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2 Responses to “Preparing for the first rain of the riding season”

  1. on 12 Sep 2011 at 9:55 amDave B

    Great info as always Britt! Thanks for sharing this on the VISC FB page too.

  2. on 06 Nov 2011 at 11:36 pmDarlene


    Loved the reference to the needle screeching across the LP. Good info that everyone who rides on the Wet Coast.

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