With the long period of half-decent weather bringing many more bikes out onto the roads, it’s probably time to remind riders of the dangers posed by summer rain. By danger, I’m not referring to the need to carry waterproofs, or the dangers of soggy underwear after being caught without, I’m referring to what happens to the road surface when it rains after a long period of dry weather.
Simply, it becomes similar to a skating rink.
During the long, hot, dry days, all the traffic is depositing rubber onto the road as vehicle tyres wear whilst giving their vehicles good grip. In addition, the diesel spilt by over-filled lorry tanks and dripping oil from badly maintained vehicles will seep into the tarmac just waiting to be brought to the surface when the rain comes. Unlike petrol, diesel and oil doesn’t evaporate, so will sit there, just below the surface, waiting to pop up and make pretty rainbow patterns when water is added.
All the while, we as riders are enjoying the feeling of almost infinite grip, getting greater angles of lean on bends, counter-steering more aggressively, braking later and accelerating harder. In other words, having fun!
Then comes the inevitable downpour.
Which brings the rubber and diesel to the surface, making the roads very slippery indeed. The painted white lines and other road markings return to their winter state of being things to avoid. Manhole covers, bitumen banding and polished surfaces become slippery once more.
Now the rider needs to be extra careful. The sudden change means no more hard acceleration or braking, no more aggressive cornering. Cautious riding round roundabouts instead of seeking hero-like lean angles. Eagle eyes on the search for tell-tale rainbows on the road warning of ice-like diesel spills.
Summer rain makes the roads more treacherous than the frequent rains of winter – when the rubber and diesel is washed away and not allowed to build up to catch us unaware. So riding in summer after a downpour requires even more care than riding in winter.
Be warned – Summer Rain means Slippery Roads!