The News-Press, 6/21/2018
by Ken Gooderham
Southwest Florida’s rainy season arrived with a bang (or maybe that was just thunder) in late May, and so far has continued to deluge the area ever since.
While it started a little early, the downpours are no surprise and certainly welcome… unless you like to bike, walk or run outside. For you all, the rain means you may need to adjust your schedule (or your outdoor activities) a little to accommodate the weather.
The first adjustment is one you may have already made, once the temperatures started to rise. Most days, getting out early improves your chances of staying dry (as well as a little cooler), assuming our afternoon thunderstorm routine stays on track.
Speaking of which, it should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): If there’s lightning and thunder, stay inside. Exercise may be important, but so is staying alive. If you happen to get caught outside in a thunderstorm, stay low and away from trees, seek shelter if possible and let the storm pass.
If it’s just raining without the life-threatening fireworks, then you either stay inside (to the gym, anyone?) or dress to stay dry (which works better walking or running than on a bike). Jackets can keep the rain at bay (but may leave you dripping with sweat instead), and hats with a brim can keep rain out of your eyes. Of course, opt for quick-drying materials (which we all need in the Florida heat anyway), and layer to keep the stuff next to your skin as dry as possible.
There’s not much you can do for your feet, alas, although waterproof boots may make walking possible. (I have yet to meet a pair of truly waterproof running shoes, unfortunately.) If your shoes get soaked, be sure to dry them thoroughly afterwards – and remember that wet socks and clothing can be very uncomfortable to skin in ways that does not crop up when you’re dry.
Riding in the rain is less fun, but can be done if you’re determined (and prepared) enough. More likely, your ride may run into some rain unexpectedly, so being prepared is also wise.
- Throw in a rain jacket – water-resistant if not waterproof – to keep you from getting soaked. There are many options that pack into themselves to make a very carry-able pack.
- Have lights front and back. Visibility (for everyone) drops dramatically in a downpour, so making yourself easier to see keeps you safer.
- Slow down and ride smart. Wet surfaces are inherently slippery, so ride with more caution. In particular, any painted lines on the road or metal surfaces (including train tracks) will be like riding on ice, and the first few minutes after the rain starts is when the road oil is at its worst. (If you see a rainbow spot ahead, avoid it – that’s a sign of oil mixing with rainwater.)
- Also remember brakes don’t’ work as well when wet – both yours and the ones on motor vehicles (if you’re riding near traffic). Allow more time to stop, and hope that the drivers do the same.
- Beware of puddles, both for what you can see (water) and for what you cannot (potholes, nails or other tire-eating items.
- Once you’re back home safely, take some time immediately to wipe off your bike (to avoid corrosion), lube your chain and brakes (to replace what washed away or drive out any lingering moisture), and check over your cables and wheels (just to make sure everything is OK).
Ready to ride or run?Run? The Fort Myers Track Club Membership 5K Run is June 30 at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers. Participation gets you a membership, tickets to that night’s Miracle game and a good run to boot. The following Wednesday is July 4, which means a lot of 5Ks mixed in with the celebration and fireworks. All the races are morning ones, in Cape Coral, Estero and Naples. Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, eliteevents.org and gcrunner.org respectively.
Ride? Critical Mass rides ahead include Cape Coral on the night of June 29 and the Saturday Slow Roll in downtown Fort Myers the next morning. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/. You can also join the no-drop Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning ride leaving from Fort Myers Trek. The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, so helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group.
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Englewood (active.com)
- Saturday, Aug. 11: Naples Junior Tri, 8 a.m., North Collier Regional Park (gcrunner.org)
- Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16: Galloway Captiva Tri, with the kids’ events (three age groups) Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.