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  1. #1
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    Seasonal hazards

    Since daylight savings has gone into effect, I'm now riding home in the dark. This is from 5-6 when traffic is very heavy. Combine that with the fact that it is raining hard most of the time and the sides of the roads are often a blanket of wet leaves and it's pretty sketchy going.

    I'm rolling 1.5" Schwalbe Marathons but I'm wondering if there's something better for traction in these conditions. I haven't had problems yet.

    I know there are some very seasoned commuters here...what do you find works for conditions like these?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    Since daylight savings has gone into effect, I'm now riding home in the dark. This is from 5-6 when traffic is very heavy. Combine that with the fact that it is raining hard most of the time and the sides of the roads are often a blanket of wet leaves and it's pretty sketchy going.

    I'm rolling 1.5" Schwalbe Marathons but I'm wondering if there's something better for traction in these conditions. I haven't had problems yet.

    I know there are some very seasoned commuters here...what do you find works for conditions like these?

    Thanks!
    The stickiest tires in the world won't save you from going down on wet leaves- the slippage is between the road and leaves, not between your tire and the leaves. Spiked ice tires might help, but they'd be a pain to ride, and would wear quickly.

    The best advice is be careful, go slow, don't try to turn on wet leaves, and be visible. Dinotte has some unrivaled taillights. They're expensive, but it pays to be seen.

    Rain wear will keep you relatively dry and comfortable- jacket, pants, and slip on booties are all made for cyclists and the pants are usually tight enough not to get tangled in your chain, and they're usually high-vis and reflective as well.
    To the troll mobile, away...

  3. #3
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    1 up on the leaves...

    Wet leaves are almost as bad as snow or ice. As Cali L33 noted about the only thing you can do is slow down and keep manuvering on the wet leafy surface to a minimum. Turns should be slow and controled with minimal lean, and the inside foot ready to hit the ground if needed. Like was stated the stickiest tire made won't keep you from slipping on wet leaves. It's a whole different ball game.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  4. #4
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    I went down pretty hard on some slick foliage a few months ago. After getting some dental work done to undo the damage, I started riding with a mouth guard. I also take turns a lot slower now. I had decent tires on my bike when I went down, but it really didn't matter because where I went down was covered with a slick seaweed type mold. Be careful and seriously consider riding with a mouth guard at least during inclement weather. I wear mine all the time now and it is very comfortable. If I don't have it in it feels just as weird as me not having my helmet on.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses.

    I'm familiar with the leaf issue from riding in the fall up in the woods. The trails become like sled runs...brakes are worthless...you have to grab trees to slow down.

    I guess I was wondering if folks have found that a fat knobby is better than a skinny (but tready) road tire. I was kinda feeling like the high pressure tire would tend to break through leaves better than a contact patch spread over a bunch of knobs. I'm going on theory here...anyone tried both?

    As far as lights...I'm pretty well set up. Dinotte helmet mounted up front, PB Superflash helmet mounted rear and a PB Blaze 1watt front light converted to an amber rear mounted on the seatpost. People say I am very obvious and annoying.

    However, as the road gets crappier and the shoulder gets subsequently narrower, I find myself forced closer to traffic at rush hour in the dark. Just based on one day so far...it seems worse than my dark morning commute which is earlier than most traffic.

    As an aside...someone yelled at me yesterday as I was riding down the highway in the dark...heavy traffic, wide shoulder and I was probably 5 feet from the lane of traffic. Some puke in a silver eclipse went by and his passenger yelled something unintelligible out the window...the only word I could make out was "a$$hole." I'm hoping he was complaining about my bright rear light.

  6. #6
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    Tires really don't make much of a difference for most conditions. Sticky compounds are beneficial, but you riding skill is usually the deciding factor.

  7. #7
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    Since daylight savings time has gone into effect, I am finally riding to work in the daylight (at least for a few weeks before it's dark again). It's glorious. Just look at your rides home in the dark as something that will truly make you appreciate the daylight when it's back.

    The worst part for me is that after winter, when it finally starts getting light again, the time will change again and make it dark in the mornings for a few more weeks...lame. I'm off work early enough so that I get to ride home in the daylight though.


    I had my first big crash in the dark a few weeks ago (see the "I broke my helmet..." thread). I've been riding to work for about 4 years and this was my first big slam. The biggest contributors to my crash were me knowing the road so well I was on autopilot instead of being alert, and not having enough headlight for how fast I was going. My advise is to slow down a bit and stay alert. As far as traffic...I just upgraded to a PB superflash taillight also.

    With tires in deep leaves, I would buy into the theory of a skinny tire sinking down through the softness and getting slightly better traction than a big wide off-road tire. This is only true if there's a nice hard patch of asphalt underneath. I'm basing this opinion on my experience with different tire sizes/widths in deep snow in my Jeep. With a nice firm road beneath, a skinnier tire can use the weight of the vehicle to its advantage and get down below the slippery stuff to get traction, where a fatter tire can make the vehicle 'float' on top of the road base, because of all its surface area.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    (no excuse for that either)

  8. #8
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    I somewhat enjoy riding home in the dark. I have three blinking lights with different speeds on my back and lamp on the front. It's nice because I can tell how close car are by their light path.

  9. #9
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    The worst part of my round-trip was that with the leaves, a bit of wind we had recently dropped a bunch of branches and they were hidden in the leaves on the shoulder. Hitting those without knowing they were there at 5:00pm in the dark with sketchy traction about 2 feet from heavy, fast traffic was a little unnerving.

    Well, last night I went to dinner with my bro and sis after work so my wife picked me and my bike up since she was coming to dinner as well. (I figure I need to have my excuse ready for CommuterBoy as to why I was in a cage and not on my bike )

    Anyway, on the way home I was checking the highway shoulder from the car and lo and behold...it's been swept!! I'm stunned, really. There was probably a 2" thick mat of leaves and the worst places are clear now! I never paid attention to that stuff when I was caging it to work but now that I'm on a bike, I can really appreciate when the road maintenance dept stays on top of things. It took less than a week from the first heavy leaf fall for them to get out there and clear the shoulder. I only hit the buried branches once...the next day they were gone! I think I need to write a letter to the county and tell them it is very much appreciated.

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