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Thread: Rider on the fog...

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    Default Rider on the fog...

    As the fall weather sets in (first frosts predicted this weekend...), the fog has become a constant companion on my morning rides. Some days it is dense as marshmallows and doesn't break until well after I'm home (I tend to ride 6h-9h). Other days it leaves 100ft visibility and clears up mid-ride. For me, this is new weather to prepare for. I've dealt with fog occasionally, but never this extreme and consistent. I'm facing three problems:

    • Visibility (who/what can I see)
    • Other visibility (who can see me)
    • Moisture

    The third one is a relatively obvious fix, although the weather is not quite cold enough for proper rain gear in my opinion. Nonetheless from my beard to my shoelaces I tend to get about as wet as if I were riding in light rain. Any suggestions for really lightweight waterproof gear? Temps are hovering in the 45-55 range at the moment.

    The first two are where my queries are: do you ride in the dense fog? Do you feel safe doing so? Do you adjust your lights, your reflective gear...etc. accordingly? I have tended lately to point my lights down, as in fog lights on a car. But maybe low to the ground mounting is better? As for visibility, it seems like maybe super bright white reflective stuff is less effective than it would be in the rain? Thoughts?

    Any input is appreciated. I really prefer to ride in the morning, though if the general consensus is that a morning in the fog is whistling by the graveyard, perhaps I can shift my preferences...
    "Do you want ants? Because that's how you get ants."

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Almost all of my weekday riding happens between 6:30 and 8:30 AM. We don't get a lot of foggy days but I go back to bed when it's foggy out. I don't feel safe.

    If I had a lot of fog days where I live I'd first try to rearrange my work day so I could ride later. If I had to ride in the dark, I'd stay on roads where there's clear contrast between me and everything else (few roadside lights, few cars), get more blinking lights and get reflective bits on parts that move (wheels and calves).

    For what it's worth, I lived in Denmark for a year (where there is a LOT of fog) and most bikes have wheel activated (via a magnet) lights that are mounted to the dropout. they work great.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Quote Originally Posted by Octave View Post
    As the fall weather sets in (first frosts predicted this weekend...), the fog has become a constant companion on my morning rides. Some days it is dense as marshmallows and doesn't break until well after I'm home (I tend to ride 6h-9h). Other days it leaves 100ft visibility and clears up mid-ride. For me, this is new weather to prepare for. I've dealt with fog occasionally, but never this extreme and consistent. I'm facing three problems:

    • Visibility (who/what can I see)
    • Other visibility (who can see me)
    • Moisture

    The third one is a relatively obvious fix, although the weather is not quite cold enough for proper rain gear in my opinion. Nonetheless from my beard to my shoelaces I tend to get about as wet as if I were riding in light rain. Any suggestions for really lightweight waterproof gear? Temps are hovering in the 45-55 range at the moment.

    The first two are where my queries are: do you ride in the dense fog? Do you feel safe doing so? Do you adjust your lights, your reflective gear...etc. accordingly? I have tended lately to point my lights down, as in fog lights on a car. But maybe low to the ground mounting is better? As for visibility, it seems like maybe super bright white reflective stuff is less effective than it would be in the rain? Thoughts?

    Any input is appreciated. I really prefer to ride in the morning, though if the general consensus is that a morning in the fog is whistling by the graveyard, perhaps I can shift my preferences...
    A few pertinent questions:
    Where in Oregon?
    How many hours are you actually riding?
    What is your age?
    Of course you don't have to answer any, but it would help for some responders.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    How narrow and twisty are the roads? I’m historically of the mind that multiple bright taillights set at varying flashing intervals are helpful. To a point.

    I bought or sold a pair of wheels from you before you left Chicago and can share this non cycling story. One thanksgiving we drove from CHI to NJ and the fog between east Chicago and south bend was so thick we couldn’t go more than 30 mph and not see cars more than two to three lengths ahead. The most white knuckle driving in my life.
    If your Oregon fog is of that variety I would be hesitant on most roads and with most light setups.

    As for the moisture it sounds like a wind jacket versus a rain jacket might be the proper middle ground. With Castelli style water resistant knee warmers etc.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Last fall/winter it was very foggy in London. I also like to ride early.



    This is about has foggy as I will ride.
    Below, this is non issues.




    I see cyclists riding in the fog, and a blinking light attracts attention first. I ride with double front lights, one blinking and one higher beam. I angle the blinky to point towards the center line. (I'm selfish) I would not angle my light down unless it's dark and I need more light on the road. The fog is diffusing the light anyway, you want attention.

    HiViz may be marginally better than black, but all you really see is dark shadow moving. Reflective strips are better, but it is really down to your lights.

    Back light is a bigger and also flashes in a sequence from very bright to less bright.

    Obviously, I aim for slower roads on foggy days.

    In my opinion, good cycling clothing wicks moisture away from the body. So while riding in the fog, I get a layer of fine mist build up on my garments, I do not find it penetrates and saturates the garment.... I get moisture drip off my helmet all the time.

    Fast forward to around the 7m40s mark. It is a motorcycle in Bhutan. Not really related but you can see the lights of the oncoming cars. You don't see shapes or color until last minute.


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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    wear bright orange or pink gear. Use 2 very bright lights front and rear, one static and the other blinky. Don't hace any fear of blinding anyone, it won't happen.

    I tend to think that as long as you have bright clothing and bright lights riding in the fog is probably less dangerous than in no fog because the drivers would tend to go much slower, the speed difference between you and the motorized vehicule would then be similar to city driving and they would focus much more on their driving and would take more care while overtaking.
    Last edited by sk_tle; 10-21-2020 at 06:49 AM.
    --
    T h o m a s

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    If you are commuting in non-cycling clothes, I am not sure what to suggests. Showers Pass has some of the better traditional rain gear for commuting. If riding in cycling kit, the VSalon wardrobe list shows the Gore Shake-Dry garments get high marks with every fashion season, but those are typically black garments. Castelli, as noted above, has kept with having several models in fluorescent colors, and they now have some lightweight versions of the original "Gabba" line for riding at warmer temps.

    In terms of lights, I might want to get amber blinking lights for the front and rear to add to whatever lights you use regularly. Blinking amber lights have an immediate association with caution for most drivers. Place them as widely spaced from each other as possible. If they think you might be a vehicle versus a cyclist, they may be more likely to slow down.

    Above all don't feel like you are chickening out if you don't ride. Most people aren't great drivers when it is sunny outside. Fog isn't really going to improve that.
    Jorn Ake
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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Personally I avoid riding in the fog for all the obvious safety reason.
    In addition, I don't find it particularly enjoyable. The riding speed significantly goes down, there is nothing to see, end up getting soaked without the other joys of riding in rain, the bike gets covered in salt and sand (coastal riding) and requires cleaning before rust sets it, etc.
    Brian McLaughlin

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    There are no tricks-- it's like any low visibility situation, improve your odds with high vis everything, bright-AF lights, and staying off busy roads. I don't do glasses in the fog either. Ride trails if you can.

    I mostly skip rain gear in heavy fog and go for wool baselayers and wind layers. High humidity has the pleasant side effect of insulating body heat so you can be wet but comfortable with the right base layers.

    Plus, yeah, if it's true pea soup just call it-- I know you're hooked on the big rides but take a rest day.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Quote Originally Posted by bironi View Post
    A few pertinent questions:
    Where in Oregon?
    How many hours are you actually riding?
    What is your age?
    Of course you don't have to answer any, but it would help for some responders.
    - Near Dorena, in the Willamette Valley, south of Eugene.
    - 16-22/wk
    - Just shy of 33

    Quote Originally Posted by robin3mj View Post
    How narrow and twisty are the roads? I’m historically of the mind that multiple bright taillights set at varying flashing intervals are helpful. To a point.

    I bought or sold a pair of wheels from you before you left Chicago and can share this non cycling story. One thanksgiving we drove from CHI to NJ and the fog between east Chicago and south bend was so thick we couldn’t go more than 30 mph and not see cars more than two to three lengths ahead. The most white knuckle driving in my life.
    If your Oregon fog is of that variety I would be hesitant on most roads and with most light setups.

    As for the moisture it sounds like a wind jacket versus a rain jacket might be the proper middle ground. With Castelli style water resistant knee warmers etc.
    The narrow/twisty stuff is all gravel/dirt and the only thing I have to worry about there are logging trucks, which you can hear from about a mile away in any condition. Otherwise it's pretty straight.

    I do recall selling you some wheels before I moved to France - gosh, that seems like a lifetime ago.

    I hardly ever touch 30 mph and if I do its on roads where I'm keeping up with cars so its a non-issue. The reality is I can ride 45mi in the morning without seeing more than 1-2 cars. My concerns are as much about deer and elk as they are about cars. I just want to be seen!

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    If you are commuting in non-cycling clothes, I am not sure what to suggests. Showers Pass has some of the better traditional rain gear for commuting. If riding in cycling kit, the VSalon wardrobe list shows the Gore Shake-Dry garments get high marks with every fashion season, but those are typically black garments. Castelli, as noted above, has kept with having several models in fluorescent colors, and they now have some lightweight versions of the original "Gabba" line for riding at warmer temps.

    In terms of lights, I might want to get amber blinking lights for the front and rear to add to whatever lights you use regularly. Blinking amber lights have an immediate association with caution for most drivers. Place them as widely spaced from each other as possible. If they think you might be a vehicle versus a cyclist, they may be more likely to slow down.

    Above all don't feel like you are chickening out if you don't ride. Most people aren't great drivers when it is sunny outside. Fog isn't really going to improve that.
    Kit, not non-cycling clothes - I'll take a look at those suggestions. It's not a commute (nowhere to go to...) so I can always call an audible. I like the amber lights, that totally makes sense to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by doomridesout View Post
    There are no tricks-- it's like any low visibility situation, improve your odds with high vis everything, bright-AF lights, and staying off busy roads. I don't do glasses in the fog either. Ride trails if you can.

    I mostly skip rain gear in heavy fog and go for wool baselayers and wind layers. High humidity has the pleasant side effect of insulating body heat so you can be wet but comfortable with the right base layers.

    Plus, yeah, if it's true pea soup just call it-- I know you're hooked on the big rides but take a rest day.
    When it's pea soup I can trail run. Or, I suppose, take a rest day.



    Thanks for the advice, all
    "Do you want ants? Because that's how you get ants."

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Well Octave you are certainly out of the mainstream rider profile.
    You might do some research on elk and deer.
    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    As VDoug says, London and a lot of England can be foggy. It often burns off by c 10am. It is not like Dickens peasoup which was largely caused by industrial activity, it is caused by commuters, dense humanity and weather. So when in London in the morning I do a bit of work from my laptop and go out a bit later and go around some of our rather nice parks, Battersea Park (no cars), Rychmond Park (no cars if you take the outside track on an MTB) etc there are canal tow paths aswell pretty pleasant and London rains much less than its reputation. Then I go back and see what people have made of my emails.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    I hardly ride in dense fog conditions but had a thought. Does it make sense to have lights pointed in different directions? Meaning pointed perpendicular from the bike so that the fog diffuses the light to make a halo around you?

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    I will say I've made some seatbags, framebags, and handlebar bags from neon orange X-pac... you've mentioned frame bags and other luggage in other threads before and most rides above 60-70 miles benefit from a pocket on the bike, not the body. Making more stuff neon makes a difference.

    If you ever come down to Humboldt County in northern California say hello. We're fogged in too.

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...


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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    I have been biting my tongue on this since the original post as I have what are perhaps way too strong opinions about it.

    I come at this from a different place than others here. I come to it from having another addiction besides cycling...deep sea fishing.

    As I am putting my butt on a vessel that is small in comparison to the ocean and riding that vessel out 100 plus miles from shore, I decided to do the training and licensing to be an Unlimited Master Mariner. I also, because I am my mother’s son (she made the car dealer find seatbelts to install in the late 50's) and have been nicknamed « Mr. Safety » by some of my friends’ children, tend to be a bit more cautious in situations that could include a surprise.

    I am so « semper paratus «  about it, that the boat has thermal imaging camera in addition to some very sensitive radar that all display on some big screens.

    Even with that technology, my training was to NEVER go faster than dead slow in limited visibility conditions in case there is a danger that is missed by the instrumentation. And to always have someone else watching the water ahead and all around for any dangers while I watch the screens and drive. You only have one set of eyes and can’t see everything everywhere that there might be danger without another set of eyes on watch.

    I will also say that ANY light except for red is blinding in the fog, at least out on the water. When a human/ animal is blinded or confused by light, it slows reaction time (which makes what I say below even more scary in my thinking) as the meaning of it is "computed".

    And more importantly, because of the way the light refracts in the water drops makes it impossible to know with any real accuracy which direction the light is coming from and how fast it is approaching.

    Yes, over say 6 miles out at sea you can see the light getting stronger so that you know that it is coming towards you. But, how often do you have a couple of miles to six of a straight line to see or be seen as a light that is getting brighter when you are on your bike?

    And, when someone sees the light how fast do they react?

    And, how does this help you see the fallen tree, the dead dear, the boulder that rolled down the hill, the pot hole that is pretty crater like. And then with your bike and lights in the shoulder how does an oncoming logging truck see you crumpled lying in the road.


    That is why I would say if it is foggy....Just. Do. NOT. Ride.

    It is not just what YOU can see.

    It is what a car can see.

    And, let’s say the driver is going really slowly. Even if a car is traveling at 10 miles an hour the stopping distance is about 14 feet per second. Plus how long does it take for a driver to see, their brain to connect to their foot, them to press the pedal? So, you need maybe 15-20 yards of visibility. And that's assuming you are not moving. Let's say you are going at 10 miles an hour. Now we are just beyond a football field in clearly seeing to be somewhat plausibly safe. Great on really long straight aways but what about even slowly gently curving roads?

    And that's assuming it is a car not a lumber truck which is heavier and will take longer to stop. And, that's saying not a bit over 10 miles an hour for you or the car.

    I know that I am getting shrill and perhaps overstating all of this.

    But your life is too valuable to your family (and us here also) to risk it.

    Just do something else or wait until it clears enough. Please.

    That is ATM very strong O.
    « If I knew what I was doing, I’d be doing it right now »

    -Jon Mandel

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    Quote Originally Posted by htwoopup View Post
    I know that I am getting shrill and perhaps overstating all of this.

    But your life is too valuable to your family (and us here also) to risk it.

    Just do something else or wait until it clears enough. Please.

    That is ATM very strong O.
    I don't come here for babytalk. Thanks for being real, I appreciate the viewpoint.
    "Do you want ants? Because that's how you get ants."

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    Default Re: Rider on the fog...

    In hindsight, some of the dumbest things I've done on a bike is to descend Tourmalet and Agnello in fog dense enough not to be able to see much beyond my front tyre. (Not on the same day, mind.) It cleared up not too long after we (2 people) started descending, but anything could have come up in those few hundred meters. Yes, we were going really slowly, but it was really dumb.

    Waiting potentially a couple of hours for the fog to clear wouldn't have been a very practical option, and I don't know if walking down would have been advisable either. But again, it was dumb to ride down.

    I confess that I almost had a head on crash with a motorist whilst descending Galibier on a clear afternoon. Less than a second of distraction or loss of concentration, completely my fault. In a fog, it would have been a different outcome, I should think.
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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