October 6, 2008

Louis and Clark Style

Welcome to Camp Dissappointment!
Aw, it ain't THAT bad, but I do have a rather Oregon-like ride between jobs to look forward to this aftrernoon. I'm nearly done reading a pretty good book recommended by El Dude South, Del Loco Rio Lobo Gigande, aka Ort. "Undaunted Courage" by Steven A. Ambrose, subtitled "Thomas Jefferson, Meriweather Lewis, and the Opening of the American West" -- a very good account of the Lewis & Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back. It's good stuff, and I'm to the part where they are camped for the winter (actually, just about to leave) off the mouth of the Columbia River about March, 1806. Stories on constant rain (like eleven-days worth of rain!) and such make this afternoon's rainy foray seem piddly by comparison - especially since I'll be performing the much shorter trek over paved trails. But, "savages" abound with every SUV, Minivan and BMW I encounter. Personally, I'd rather - somedays - get charged by a grizzly.
Anyways ... that's about it from here.

Today, with new "rain flaps" fashioned from the cut-off sleeves of an old ripped rain jacket, I hope my belongings stored in the outside pockets of my waterproof panniers will stay dry. Yeah, for the first six months, the waterproofing on the zippers held up nicely - but it's since failed, requiring other means of defense. So, the jacket sleeves, made from flexible 2mil clear PVC, was cut into identical 10 inch by three inch strips, and those strips fastened to the panniers themselves with clear RTV silicone sealer. They are held in place nicely, don't flap while riding, and completely cover the surface of the pocket's openings on each bag. This should prove to be a good shield to entering water. Yeah, granted, I'm still putting my stuff in plastic baggies, just in case -- which ought to be enough to protect them, right? Correct -- the main thing I'm trying to prevent here is the pockets themselves actually filling up with water. Since the fabric of the bag that makes up the pockets is indeed waterproof, if any water gets through the zipper, it stays there. Last time it rained, I had three inches of water in each bag, and very little practical method bywhich to dry them out. I stuffed them with paper towels, and that mostly worked. Keeping water at bay will save a lot of paper, and hassle. To be clear, however, I'm still very impressed with these bags from Axiom, a Canadian company. The MAIN compartments are still, and probably always will be, completely bone dry after heavy rains. This is thanks to the roll-top closure design. There simply isn't any way for water to get in there. My only beef has been with the outside pockets on the top of each bag's main flap. Handy, but the zipper treatment would have been better if there had been a factory storm-flap designed into it, or maybe a snap closure that overlays the top of the pocket itself. In either case, since my phone and other valuables usually hang out in these outer pockets, protection is a must. A little ingenuity and some glue, voila. Carry on!

Aside from that, the rain is cold enough that I opted for the RainShield O2 jacket, instead of the short-sleeve summer rain vest. Also in tow, since I expected the rain and it's a two-job day, I packed dry shorts and a dry jersey for the final ride home in the evening - sparing myself the "fun" of pulling on cold, wet cycling gear for the ride home. I'm simply not at the bike store job long enough to have things dry out, so this time I've planned ahead. The leg homeward tonite is only 5 miles or so, so with any luck I can keep the pace light, rinse the extra clothes out and hang dry them for tomorrow AM's ride - which should still be rainy, per the forecast.

Hopefully, the creek isn't too high as I write this... not anxious to do a mid-commute re-route like a couple weeks back!

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Noah said...

I opted to embrace the rain. I don't really try to stay dry until it gets into the 50s. 35 and rainy, though, is seriously the most miserable riding conditions I can imagine. I'd take -10F and a blizzard before 35 and rainy.

I rode some pretty serious roads today and people surprisingly gave me lots of room. Might have been the three (!!!) tail lights and reflect-o-vest.