A few weeks ago I wrote about my experiences with a new combination of Shimano R107 shoes and 105 5800 SPD-SL pedals. I’m pleased to report that both are going very well and continue to be fine upgrades to my Willier.
The only drawback that I’ve had was the venting located on the top of shoe, which in poor conditions; result in cold and wet feet. So I did walk-in purchase at the Port Melbourne franchise of Freedom Machine and purchased a pair of Bontrager RXL softshell shoe covers.
Ordinary this would have been a straight to Wiggle or Chainreaction purchase, but I thought doing an in person fitting would be sensible. So took one of my trusty R107’s to the store. As it turns out that was a good idea as ordering the large size instead of the snug fitting medium size would have resulted in product return.
|| Photo care of Marv
|| Explanation care of Marv
||This is the photo of my shiny new shoes from a few months ago. As you can see, the top vent is ideally positioned to allow water in.
| After 1
|| So here’s the same shoes fitted with overshoe. The ‘boot’ part comes up over the ankle and stops water running down into your shoe, for the most part.
| After 2
|| Here’s another angle with the cleats exposed through the ‘boot’s’sole. So far the overshoes have delivered the goods.
I’m now a bit peeved that these have gone on sale this week with a deep discount of 35% and a price of $58. For those of you looking for overshoes, that’s a steal. They are very well made and are weather proof. I’ve been out in some really horrible wet and windy conditions over the last 2 weeks and they have kept my feet warm and mostly dry.
I’m giving them 4 out of 5 Marvs.
Heres some tech spec stuff about the overshoes I’ve pinched from the Trek website:
The Bontrager RXL Waterproof Softshell Shoe Cover – Black
- overshoes constructed with Profila shearling-backed Softshell fabric
- taped for waterproof and windproof protection in cold and wet conditions.
- zips are also waterproof
- velcro fastener at the ankle which ensures that the covers stay firmly in place.
- used with road cycling shoes with cleats.
- has reflective features to increase your visibility in low light conditions.
April has been a really crap time for riding and blogging. The combination of bad weather and an early Autumn cold has me off the bike and off my game. I wasn’t able to do the MS Melbourne Cycle weekend either. Bother…
This morning was the first longish ride I’ve done since returning from holidays and it was a sodden and cold 34 km, with the last 7 km into a driving headwind. I don’t know how the Dutch and Belgians ride in these conditions in the lowland classics. Breakfast at Balderdash has never tasted so good.
Notwithstanding a pretty slow and miserable ride it made me thing about my personal safety and what I should be doing while riding in the wet. I figured that would be a good topic for an Autumn blog entry. It is also revisiting a topic I wrote about back in August last year after seeing Chris Froome bow out of the Tour de France.
So here’s some on tips on wet weather riding:
- Your tyres only provide traction for one activity at a time: braking, steering or accelerating. Don’t risk losing traction by braking or sprinting around bends. Brake on the approach, flow round, ride away.
- Avoid riding through puddles, particularly if you can’t see the bottom of them. They could conceal shards of glass, potholes and slippery surfaces like painted lines or ironworks.
- Your brakes will be a lot less efficient in the wet, especially if you have rim brakes and are on very wet roads. This means your stopping distance in the wet is greatly increased so you’ll need to leave plenty of room to slow down and stop. You may need to “pump” the brakes a little to dry the rims. In addition, don’t forget to give your brakes a really wipe to remove all the grit that’s splashed up during your ride. An old toothbrush is perfect for this.
- A back wheel slide under braking can be controlled with practice. However, a front wheel slide isn’t quite as easy to recover from. So take it easy on that front brake and use more emphasis on the rear brake. If you’re on very slippery surfaces keep pedalling while you use the back brake to prevent the wheel from locking.
- Drivers may have problems seeing through wet or steamy windscreens when it’s raining. This means you need to take extra care to be visible with front and rear lights on your bike and helmet. Bright clothing high visibility clothing and pannier covers will also help.
- Pedestrians are doing their best to get where they’re going in without getting wet. They may have rain hoods up or have visibility shielded by umbrellas. This will means they may not see you coming so you have to be extra vigilant (and visible) and be prepared to avoid them.
- In low light, clear or yellow lenses for eye protection are critical. When riding in the rain, normal sunglasses cut out too much light and can make road obstacles hard to see.
- Warm and waterproof clothing will make you much more comfortable so you can concentrate on riding safely. Wear good gloves and overshoes as well as a waterproof jacket. If you wear glasses consider wearing a hat with a peak to help keep the rain off of them.
- Newly laid tarmac may be greasy and slippery so you need to be extra cautious on new roads.
- If you’re a regular commuter consider fitting mudguards for the winter season. They will stop the spray into your face off the front wheel and the wet strip up your back from the rear wheel.
- Avoid these slippery things where possible: Painted markings, metal drain covers and manholes, metal studs and cats eyes, rainbow coloured oil splotches, wet leaves, wooden surfaces, mud.
- Even when running good tires, traction on wet roads is hard to come by. An easy way to increase traction on wet roads is to lower your tire pressure. A drop of just 5-10 psi could improve traction noticeably.
- When riding with others, it is best not to ride directly behind the rider in front as this throws up spray and grit. Also, stopping distances will be affected in the wet so it is best to keep a safe distance apart to avoid collisions.
See you on the roads.
Carrying on from previous posts about irritating punctures, I’ve compiled a list of clauses which I’m now proposing as my law describing the likelihood of getting a puncture. Some people may think I’m getting a head of myself here but, sad to say I’m basing this on empirical observations of my own stupidity.
Clause (i) If you are going to get a puncture, it will be at most inconvenient time, when you are late for work, a dinner date or an important and you will not have brought a spare tube or puncture kit.
Clause (ii) It is inevitable that you will have more punctures on your back wheel, as this carries your weight. Consequently, if you are like me, heavier you will have more punctures.
Clause (iii) It more likely that you will have rear puncture when you haven’t cleaned your rear running gear and/or are wearing new clothing. Grease will find its way into places and clothing that can’t be easily cleaned.
Clause (iv) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when it rains as more debris is washed onto the roads and wet tyres are more susceptible to damage.
Clause (v) It is more likely that you will get a puncture and then have the weather turn bad with heavy showers making your machine’s parts that much harder to handle.
Clause (vi) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when you are riding alone when there is no one to help you.
Clause (vii) It is more likely that you will get a puncture, if you are stupid enough to boast about never getting one. This is hubris which greatly angers your fellow cyclists and Velos the Greek god of bicycling. You will be smited by his wrath 🙂
Advice for Chris Froome 🙂 and Team Sky
I wrote this a few weeks before the Tour de France but its seems appropriate.
The Lead Out
Here’s a few pointers for riding around in the rain in Melbourne. Clearly the smartest thing you can do as a cyclist in Melbourne is plan your route. Pick the a route that provides the safest road conditions. Maximise your use of off-road and on road bicycle lanes, and roads that have low traffic volumes and speeds. Melbourne City council has a pretty good map that you can download from here:
I’ll say it again, look at http://www.bom.gov.au/vic/forecasts/melbourne.shtml, before planning your ride. Its free and may save your life. If you find yourself riding in poor conditions, play it safe, try to stay off the road and make yourself as visible as possible.
- Clip on and switch on some decent front and rear lights. Anything above 200 lumens that has a ‘strobe’ mode is ideal for the front. Similarly 90-120 lumens, with strobe is ideal for the your rear
- Stay on commuter paths. Typically be less congested and greatly reduce the risk of you becoming a hood ornament eg Chris Froome 😉
- Try to stay upright and steer with your arms rather than leaning into corners with your hips.
- Take corners slower – wet riding surfaces reduce traction between the tyres and the surface.
- Avoid hazards such as potholes and storm water grates. Watch out for doors on parked cars. The chances are the driver has been thinking more about the rain, than a cyclist approaching from behind.
- Wear bright waterproof clothing – I have bright yellow gortex jacket with reflective patches that is highly visible and breathable. Something like this is ideal for daily commuting if you have a few spare dollars.
- Carry a spare tube, instead of a patching kit. I’ve found trying to patch a wet inner tube almost impossible on rainy days.
- If you are on your road bike, decrease the pressure in your tires, say 5 to 10 psi lower than your usual setting, to improve traction.
- Try to avoid slick spots – pay attention to painted street surfaces, metal drain covers,
- Try to cross tram and rail lines at 90 degrees or close to, to minimise contact. This is a particularly nasty hazard on wet Melbourne days.
- Double the amount of time you use to brake to stop. Locking up will lead to you either spinning out or going over the handle bars. Do a few test ‘brakes’ at the start of your ride to feel out what your new threshold should be.