Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rain bad, Sun worse – don’t be lulled into complacency

Ok, boys and girls, I know you’re all as happy as clams out there with all this glorious weather. So what do people do? Immediately dump the perpetual load of rain gear -- and with it goes the luminescent rain jacket / windbreaker. Aren’t we all ecstatic to be able to hop on the bike with 50% less junk? Because isn’t that the Number One complaint about biking – that there’s too much STUFF you have to schlep around with you?

HOWEVER – all is not perfect in P-town -- or anywhere else where the sun is shining brightly. What happens (especially in a car) when you pass abruptly from a brightly sunlit area into the dark shade of a row of trees? Ever notice? You’re temporarily struck blind, that’s what. Isn’t it true? For a few seconds you can’t see a durned thing and you’re operating entirely on guesswork. This effect is much less dramatic when you’re on a bike because you’ve got the whole dome in your visual field, filled with an array of light and shadow happening in all the 360 degrees around you, providing for gradual adjustments from light to dark and vice versa. In a car, however, you’re all closed in, making the light more glary and the dark mo darker. And having all that glass reflection to contend with further compounds the problem. Once again the cyclist has the advantage of better vision BUT, ironically, is at the mercy of the impaired vision of the bigger and much heavier Moving Metal Deathtraps.

Conclusion? In sunny times, that luminescent garment is just as crucial as it is in rainy times. That could be the ONLY thing the driver sees once you enter a shadowed area. I have for that reason been enduring my caution-yellow rain shell throughout the sunshine so far. People look at me weirdly, but at least they look at me. Finally I’ve bought myself a simple VEST which is a lot cooler. Later I’ll post a photo and brand information and tell you why I think this one is so much better than the last one I had.

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