Monday, June 09, 2008

About the most massively useful thing...

Sorry. Douglas Adams Reference. I couldn't resist. I really, really needed the towel this morning.

This is really my first full-on rain commute ever. I mean, I've ridden in the rain before. But usually if it's raining when I leave and the radar looks like it will stay raining for my whole ride in, I ride to the bus. This morning, the radar showed light precip over Lenexa, with moderate precip moving in quickly. There was no question on if it would rain. It was only a question of how much.

I knew this was coming last night. I had my panniers' raincovers out already. I packed my clothes pannier last night, and my laptop pannier had most of my cables tucked away already. In minutes, I was on the road this morning.

Hybridzilla doesn't have fenders yet, and even after this morning, I'm not 100% sure if I'll fender it or not. It's just my backup commuter and a great bike in its own right. Still, she's given me problems when ridden even short distances in the rain. How well she does in the next few days (particularly the bottom bracket) will determine if she'll see more rain duty or if today was a big mistake. Last time I rebuilt the bottom bracket I used a heavy amount of marine-grade waterproof axle grease meant for boat trailers. If it survives this morning's rainfest, I might fender it and keep using it in the rain. The Twelve is still in pieces. I'm not sure when I'll get around to rebuilding it. I'm not in much of a hurry. I'm broke and hybridzilla's been a pleasure to ride with the exception of flinging road goo all over me this morning.

So, with this being my first genuine ride where I left the apartment with an "I am actively seeking to get completely and totally drenched on my way to work" attitude, I learned a few lessons about my new panniers and the rain covers. For light rain, they keep everything nice and dry except for a circle on the back of the pannier facing the wheel. In heavy rain, water gets into the rain cover through the back. This is supposed to be okay because there's a grommet riveted to the bottom of the covers that acts as a drain hole. Since I had raincovers, I didn't bother plastic-wrapping all of my stuff the way I used to with the old Banjo Brothers Saddlebags.

Lesson #1: Plastic wrapping stuff in the panniers isn't a bad idea.

Lesson #2: Make sure that the drain hole is positioned at the absolute lowest hanging area of the panniers, or you'll end up with an inch-deep puddle of road grime in the rain covers (and a similar puddle will eventually seep through the panniers' seams and permeate the contents of the panniers. See Lesson #1.

They failed to keep my clothes completely dry, and even my padded neoprene laptop sleeve got wet but thankfully the laptop stayed dry. Neoprene is water resistant, and that's part of why I chose that laptop sleeve.

Fortunately, The clothes that were stuffed into the bottom (and wet) part of my clothes pannier were the spare shorts, socks and t-shirt I brought along for the ride home in case the clothes I wore this morning were too wet or nasty to wear a second time. My work clothes were up higher and stayed dry.

The ride itself wasn't too bad, I just got soaked. Karen was out as well, and she was similarly drenched. Neither of us had fenders this morning. With temps in the mid-60s, it actually felt good.

I hope I can get all this stuff dried out by quittin' time. Ugh.

Random Tunage:
Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up
Armin Van Buuren & DJ Shah - Going Wrong (a newish spine-tingling track, check it out)


dvicci said...

I'd be interested in how that BB turns out. I've replaced probably a dozen bottom brackets over the course of the last 15 years on account of rain alone. Most of them were super el cheapo bottom of the line variety. So far, my Kona's doing OK after many many puddles, but you never know...

My fenders helped me quite a bit this morning. Instead of being soaking wet and road-dirty, I was just soaking wet.

Apertome said...

It's a bit disappointing the rain covers don't work better. I have the waterproof Banjo Brothers panniers, and while they aren't big nor built particularly well, they DO keep the water out.

Good job, riding in the rain. I generally wimp out if it's raining in the morning, but I don't mind getting wet on my way home.

Noah said...

Well, I just don't drive to work, period.

And had I ridden to the bus, it would have gone down like this:

2 minutes after leaving home, I'd be completely and totally drenched.

10-12 minutes after I left home, I'd be at the bus stop, the first person in line.

5 minutes later, the bus would come into view and people would stand behind me.

1 minute after that, the bus would pull up and I'd put my bike on the front of the bus.

Then, I'd have to go to the end of the line, where I'd become the likely recipient of the "hi! it's standing-room-only" prize, wherein I earn an all expenses paid (by me!) trip on an over-airconditioned bus, soaking wet and unable to sit down.

... or I can just ride my bike downtown and enjoy the temperature and exercise while I'm busy getting road grime all over myself.

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