Posted on Tuesday, 19th August 2008 by Chris

Rain stings at 21 Miles an hour.

Water from the front wheel tickles.

Sometimes your bike just can’t make the turn.

And tree branches hurt at any speed.

 

Yes I rode in the torrential downpour that hit us today in Austin.  It was actually pretty cool.  I think that I told you the last time I went that it was pretty peaceful.  This time it was good too.  In fact the rain stopped halfway through the ride and it was pretty sunny.  In one spot on the veloway the water crosses the concrete and was about a foot deep all the way across.  I was surprised at how easily my bike knifed through this water.

 

When I was riding toward the end.  When the rain was drying and the road was drying out, twice something weird happened.  Going down the small hill right after the start, through a large puddle of water (when it rains this is about a foot deep and it streams across the road) and then up a small hill on the other side and around that first corner.  In dry weather I can easily take these turns at 25+ miles an hour with no problem, I’ve done it as fast as 32 that I remember.  So, today after the rain stops, and I have already done five laps.  This is my sixth of seven total loops on the veloway.  I go down the hill, and through the drainage crossing the road, with no problem.  And then I go up the other side and I begin to bank and turn into the corner.  But something isn’t right.  The bike is turned a bit, but the tire isn’t gripping, I can feel the rear sliding, and the front tire is providing no direction at all.  Just like a skid, I try to be smart, I steer into the turn a bit to try and get the tire to catch.  I begin to ease it gradually, probably only going about 15 miles an hour at this point.  I turn then skid, then turn back, it catches then I skid, etc.  A gradual war that I am not winning since the road turns in front of me and there is nothing but rain soaked ground and trees straight ahead.  My bike is turning but not fast enough, I am getting to close to the edge, and your words flash across my mind.  “I thought you were a gonner for sure.”  The inching process isn’t working and finally I run out of road.  I am about a foot in the grass.  I’m surprised that even with the rain the ground is firm and my bike maintains speed.  That’s good and bad.  Good because I don’t sink and fall over and bad because I’m in the grass and the trees are right ahead.  The other good news is that it’s easier to turn, since my tires can grip the dirt for some reason better than they did the asphalt.  The bad news did I mention the trees.  And oh the big asphalt ledge on the side.  So what choice do I have, I do what I can.  I turn the bike as sharply as I dare back toward the road.  And as I hit the branches on the trees my front tires pops back onto the asphalt.  I thought you’d enjoy knowing that I didn’t fall, although I have some scratches and whelps on my arm from the tree limbs, and I feel like a lucky idiot. 

 I still have no clue why my tire would not grip.  It happened to me in one other spot and in neither case was it a particularly sharp turn, fast speed or slick road.   

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