Friday, July 18, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - water from above and below

Saw this improvision from mrbrown's Quick Guide to Bicycle Commuting in Singapore. It brings back my experiences related to rain and cycling.

1. Most of the time, rain doesn't stop, it is the ... cloud that moves.
This is the first lesson I've learned. The first time I was caught in the rain, without rain coat, I was together with some other motorcyclists under a shelter. A short while later, the rain "stopped". However, those motorcyclists didn't show any sign of carrying on their journey. Another couple of minutes passed and they are still waiting. I didn't understand why, and so I moved on. Just only a few minutes later I saw the boundary of the rain, and too late to react and I rode into the rain, again.

2. No more rain, but the floor is still wet.
On another ocassion, I waited till no more rain, and added another 15 minutes wait for the clouds to be far enough. Happily I moved on. Only when I got back home to change then I realized how ugly was the back of my shirt. The real wheel, especially MTB tyre had "sprayed" my shirt with water on the ground. This led me to my next lesson.

3. These are called mud-guard, not water-guard.
Not knowing what that black thing above the wheel is called (see pic above), I went to the stop and asked if there is anything that can prevent water from hitting my back. This thing was suggested and happily I cycle before the road is dry after a rain. Still, I found my back is still sprinkled with dirty water from the ground. Only later I realized that this thing is called a mud-guard, and thus as the name suggests, it is not designed for the problem I was facing. At that time, I envy those road bikes that have the semi-circle cover to tackle this problem.

4. My favorite material to extend the mud-guard.
I had the similar approach as the one shown in the above pic: to extend the mud-guard. Initially, I used carboard, but it couldn't tolerate water. I put it in one of those transparent magazine wrapper envelope, but moisture still got in and it couldn't last long. The idea of water proof led me to water holding items. I didn't use water bottle like the one in the pic, which I think is quite troublesome. Initially I used those use and throw plastics cups, which are free, softer and easier to cut. However, under direct sunlight daily, it decays within months. Eventually, the best material I have found and used is transparency. It is not free, but I can get those used and unwanted ones. It is light, nice looking, firm when curved, and able to last for years under direct sunlight.

5. Rain coat doesn't keep you dry.
After being equiped with a rain coat for months, finally, I have the chance to use it. Happily, I put on the rain coat and moved on. It was so stuffy. Then becoming sticky. By the time I reach my destination, I was drenched. The rain coat kept me from the rain water but also prevented sweat from drying up.

6. Headdress.
Another problem with the rain coat is that it can't cover your face, especially when cycling, the wind keep blowing the head cover backwards. Thus, my spectacles have too much water to be usable, and my eyes soon have difficulty opening with water keep running into it. For people like me who don't wear helmet, it is good to have a cap to hold the head cover in place and also to provide shelter to your spectacles and eyes. Furthermore, headdress is also useful to block the sun.

7. Avoiding is the solution.
Nowadays, I don't have the mud-guard. I don't carry rain coat with me. I carry umbrella, but I avoid using it while riding. If caught in rain, I am ready to lock my bike nearby, use umbrella and continue my journey via public transportation.

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