It rained on Thursday. It was actually pretty gross. But I was on my way downtown to meet a friend for lunch, so I got myself kitted up in my rain jacket and rain pants (even with a hole worn in the butt after a couple of winters, they're keeping me dry) and got on the road. And as I was cruising down the long, downhill bit of Bank Street between Heron and Riverside, I realized that what I really dislike about riding in the rain isn't the cold, or the wet, or the slow seep of the damp through my left boot (the one I keep down when I'm coasting.) These things I can shrug off, with my bright red rainjacket and black rainpants on. No, it's the Evil Fountain that I really dislike.
The Evil Fountain is created as my front tire goes through a puddle, or, increasingly as it gets colder, a pool of slush. It throws the dirty water up across my chest in a cascade of grit; it spatters the skin under my chin, chucks sand and salt and probably bits of dead squirrel into my mouth, and flings droplets of water up under my glasses and into my eyes, forcing me to squint and blink. It also coats my glasses in a layer of cold water, which, combined with the condensation from my breath, makes it a toss-up for me whether I leave the glasses on and peer through the distortion, or push them down on my nose and try to look over them with my astigmatic natural vision (which is not great.)
I know, I should just get a front fender. The problem is that I often - more often in the winter - am offered rides home from late night poetry shows and meetings, and frankly, I'm usually inclined to take them up on it. Particularly if it's started to snow. And in that case, I usually wind up having to pop off my quick-release front wheel in order to stash Mike in the back end or the trunk of my friend's car. And the last time I tried that with a fender attached to the front fork, it didn't end well for the fender. So I gave up, accepting that my rear fender might defend my back from the skunk stripe, but my face was going to have to look out for itself.
And then, riding down Bank Street on Thursday, I realized that I didn't even have to buy a fender. I could thwart the Evil Fountain all on my own. I even had an empty tonic water bottle waiting at home to be DIY-ed. And this is what I came up with:
It might be hard to see, like trying to photograph a jellyfish, but what I did was to take the pop bottle, cut it apart, slice out a section of the side that was about 10" or so long, round off the corners, and then poke holes in it right where the mounting braze-ons are for your average bottle holder or U-lock mount. Then I just poked the screws through the holes, and bolted a piece of cut-up plastic bottle onto my bike in a position that I think (I haven't tested it yet) will defeat the Evil Fountain. At least mostly.
And, as I pointed out to the friend I was having lunch with, not only is it free, but it makes Mike even less stealable than he was before. Hardly anyone wants to steal a beaten-up, elderly, road-weary $50 mountain bike with mismatched crank arms. How much less desirable is the same bike, with a chunk of plastic bottle bolted to it? I win.
Assuming this thing works to keep the water, slush and squirrel bits off my face.