I posted about rain back in July when I had just returned from a trip to France that featured a couple of heavy rainfalls. Back here in California, it's been the usual weather pattern of a dry summer followed by the resumption of rain in the autumn. Any of you who saw the Giants defeat the Cardinals in the NLCS know that rain has returned to northern California in earnest. With that in mind, what are some things to think about when riding goat trails during or after rain storms?
Since most of the roads here that we call goat trails are on hillsides, the number one concern regards run-off. What has run off the hillside and on to the road surface? It can be mud, sand, gravel, manure, etc. All slippery. With short sightlines and and the possibility of poor visibility when riding in the rain, it's good to be cognizant of the risks of run-off and adjust your speed accordingly. While you're at it, give some to where on the road the run-off is likely to be, beginning with the uphill side of the road surface.
Next, since one of the characteristics of California that gives us such fun roads is our area's geological instability, it's good to think about what that means - particularly if it's been raining heavily for some time. Sometimes what it means are mudslides, and while some of those can be similar to the debris on the road mentioned above, they can also turn into the road you're on sliding away down the hillside. No fun to round a turn and find there's no road! Another thing to consider when choosing the entry speed for a corner.
As the rain falls this time of year, it will also bring leaves and pine needles down on the road, creating a very slippery surface, and one which may take months to clear on the less traveled roads. Add to the the falling of some of the branches that held those leaves coming down in big storms, and in really big storms, even the trees that held the branches that held the leaves can be waiting to give you a surprise around that next bend.
Last for today, though we won't have to worry about it for a while, after a long damp period, roads that don't get much sun can develop moss. Moss is another one of those slippery items that can deliver a nasty surprise. Running in the tire tracks can help, but you need to be aware that the path your head takes around a corner won't be the same as the paths your tires take. If you cross over the area between the tracks, you'll find yourself in the mother lode of slippery!
Just a few thoughts rattling around in my head as I get ready to go out for a ride following our first real rain of the season. What did I miss?