Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Real bikers ride in the rain..."

I've read or heard this quote a couple times over the past few months - that you're not a real biker unless you are willing to ride in the rain.

I rode to work this morning, in the rain, and it was one of the most stressful riding experiences I've had so far. Unless I am already out riding and get caught in some rain, I will do everything I can to avoid riding in the rain. Here's why:

1. It's slippery for the bike. Obviously. I slowed down accordingly, but cars generally do not drive the appropriate speed for the conditions. That also meant I was being tailgated. If I took a little spill on a turn, there's no way the car behind me could stop in time and avoid running me over.

2. It's slippery for my boots. Each time I came to a stop at a red light, or in stop-and-go traffic, my boots slipped slightly every time I put my feet down. This could mean more than a dropped bike. It could also mean that as my foot slips out on the wet and sometimes oily pavement, I'd go down with the bike.

3. I can't see. It's not the rain on the visor that is the problem. The problem is actually the spray from the cars in front of me. Unlike rainwater, that spray isn't naturally pushed off my visor and I can't see a thing. I can't see potholes. I can barely see roadkill. It's harder to tell how much space there is between me and the car in front of me. And I have to focus so intently on the road right in front of me, I don't even think of watching for pedestrians, cyclists or any other potential accident-causing obstacles.

Granted, there are pieces of equipment I can buy that would help. For example, I can buy better boots that won't slip so easily and there are gloves out there that work similar to a squeegee, removing water from the visor with one wipe. And I will likely invest in this kind of equipment.

However, given the choice, I want to be as careful as I can in order to decrease the probability that I'm going to get into an accident. I am not going to stack the odds against me by riding in the rain. As a new rider, I'd prefer to arrive alive and in one piece, thank you very much.

If that means that I'm not a "real biker", so be it.

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