I have not written of it much, but whenever the weather's been good enough (and it hasn't looked to be a workday of 12 or more hours), I've ridden my motor scooter to work.
This week, the prediction called for rain Monday and Tuesday and was in a hurry anyway, so I drove. Sunshine both days. So, naturally, when Wednesday was gonna be "mostly sunny, no significant rainfall," I should have been suspicious.
But I wasn't. The commute in was nice, too, warm and a bit sticky when stopped but comfy as can be in motion.
The storm hit right as my shift ended; I'd snuck my scooter into the company garage earlier, when a little shower had blown through, so I sat and watched the storm blow through. Twenty-plus minutes later, the sun came out. Traffic was moving right along and off I went. H'm, a lot of standing water, better be careful....
Careful I was but about a mile up the road, as I coasted to a stop and applied the brakes, as close to 0 mph as you can get and still have a little momentum, I felt the back of the scooter lose traction and it started to fall. Got off the brakes, back to vertical -- overcorrected as I came to a stop, realized I wasn't gonna recover* and with both feet on the pavement, managed to ease the scooter down, then tripped over the handlebar and sat down abruptly in a nice patch of very oily water. The engine roared as it went horizontal and I fumbled the kill switch to OFF.
Not a wreck per se, though drivers each side of me reacted as if it had been. A nice young man to my left got out of his car, asked if I was okay and helped me right the bike and a lady to the right offered to call 911. I was okay, my bike looked okay on quick inspection and it started up well enough, so when the light changed, I went up about a block top an open parking space for a slightly closer check.
I was a little shaky and the look-over was quick but it all seemed okay and I proceeded on home, even more slowly than before. Felt another ice-like patch two stoplights on but by then I had picked up a bit more of a clue: the abrupt, heavy rain had left the (slightly depressed) tire-track areas full of water, I had moved away from them and had instead tried to stop in the oilier center of the lane. Cle-ver.
Usually, if you get a good rain, the slick bits are washed off in less than a half hour. "Usually" is not "always."
With 10" tires, the contact area for each one is about the size an old fifty-cent piece, if that. Since I've only got a few years riding experience, I try to avoid riding on wet pavement; I've been caught out in the rain before but never on heavily-traveled streets.
Yesterday's lesson: even when you think you're being careful, you can sabotage your efforts. The only thing that prevented a worse outcome was my modicum of caution in slowing way down as I approached the intersection.
There's no teacher like experience.
* The "little motorscooter" weighs 260 pounds, I weigh far less. I can not catch it once it has gone past the tipping point.
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
1 month ago