Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wet leaves

After shooting a few hours of boring video of commute after commute I quit using the helmet cam again. On the path I come face to face with pedestrians. The camera seems extra intrusive after I already intruded by riding through anyway. And it wasn't capturing the essence of the experience. But I should have had it on Saturday morning.

After four days of rain and wind, wet leaves littered the ground, drifted into piles and shoals in some places, swept away in others. I entered the path with due caution, crossing a rail because the path runs between them there. The rails were wet, but the ground was clear.

The path exits the rails a few hundred yards down. Wet leaves were piled on the slimy wood of the crossing platform. I slowed way down and shifted my weight to stand the bike up for the tight, low-speed crossing. Ordinarily, when the rails are the primary obstacle, you cross by leaning the bike to the outside of the turn, cutting the front wheel as far as you can in the space you have. Shift your body weight to the inside of the turn as you enter it and bring the bike after you. It's a fluid snap. Too fast and you can't articulate the bike properly. Too slow and you wobble, unable to maintain the proper angle.

Add wet leaves and it's a whole new game. Doing a reasonable speed to cross rails, even wet rails, I never even reached the rails. When I cut the front wheel to the left the bike kept going straight down the track out from under me. I had already projected my weight into the turn, preparing to twitch the bike through the crossing and resume speed. Instead I ejected as the bike went its own way.

Helmet cam and at least one external point of view would have captured the maneuver for enjoyment over and over.

Without knowing how I did it I landed on fingertips and toes, unharmed. I picked up the bike, also unharmed, and continued my journey.

I made this video tonight in the garage to try to analyze the rail crossing waggle. It's a pretty standard low-speed turn. You have to imagine a slightly protrusive rail at the apex of it.
I'd already spent a couple of hours trying to draw illustrative cartoons of the procedure. It was harder than I thought, even to doodle a crude rendering of the positions. I'll keep fooling with it, but not tonight.


RANTWICK said...

Leaves, man. I hear you. This year I've seen sweepers on the bike paths, which is pretty awesome.

cafiend said...

No one is ever going to sweep the path I ride. In the months ahead most of it will be pretty neglected.