“Don’t get them wet.” This is good advice for gremlins, anything made of suede, and streets — which, in Philadelphia, are a lot like gremlins. Relatively innocuous when dry, but expose them to water and they transform into malevolent little psychopaths with hearts of pure evil.
(I didn’t intend to ride to work in the rain this morning, but I naively believed that the “20% chance of a light shower” that had been predicted meant that it actually might not rain. Now I know the language is meteorology-speak for “heavy rain is certain; best to stay home.”)
Shielded from the elements and stably set on four wheels, cars are generally impervious to the nightmarish rain-induced terrors that charge at bikers like a pack of mentally unstable wolverines. The most challenging obstacle that a car faces in the rain is squeaky windshield wipers. While those can be pretty annoying, I’m unaware of any that resulted in death. And a PubMed search for “squeaky windshield wipers” and “excess all-cause mortality” yielded no relevant hits. (It does not get more scientific than that. Sir Francis Bacon would be proud.)
Since motorcycles and scooters don’t have windshield wipers, we are spared any related hazards (even if they existed). On the other hand, we do face a litany of other hardships…
Leaves, for example. So idyllic in their rustic autumn tones — they’re great when dry and they know their place: Staying the hell up on trees. But moisten the little bastards and put ’em on the road, and they want only one thing: Death. Deciduous trees are, quite simply, a bad idea.
And a wet manhole cover may as well be a pressure-activated, anti-personnel land mine. ATF should regulate the damn things.
Even the deceptively innocent crosswalk is out for blood and maiming once that paint is wet. Who knew that the main ingredients in road paint are hydraulic machine oil and Astroglide? In winter, we put salt on the roads to make them less slippery if snows. Why are we OK marking pedestrian areas with stuff that turns the street into an Olympic luge track?
The solution here is obvious: I should install a flame-thrower on the front of my bike — you know, to dry out the road ahead. (It should nicely balance the mini-gun that I’m planning for the back to ward off tail-gaters.) Unfortunately, my attempts to acquire a flame-thrower from standard sources (i.e., Amazon, ebay, Craigslist) have not been successful.
It seems ATF has figured out how to regulate those. (Dammit.)