Outside with Charlie

By January 4, 2011


Bring on the rain and snow

Rivers and lakes are replenished, the snowpack is excellent and a good runoff this spring means we will enjoy lots of kayaking, boating and other water recreation this summer.

In the meantime, skiers, snowboarders and snowshoe enthusiasts have a lot to grin about. If you aren’t part of that crowd this may not be your favorite time. Playing in the snow is easy and fun; playing in the rain is a different story.

Cyclists generally don’t enjoy riding when it is snowing or raining. This rider doesn’t. Every now and then I  get caught in a sprinkle but it’s not something I do on purpose. I have a healthy respect for slippery snow and ice and don’t venture out when the roads are covered. I don’t bounce very well anymore.

What do cycling enthusiasts do? Riding during the winter is challenging and our area has been hit hard this year. Wind, rain and early, frequent snow kept quite a few riders off the saddle.

For some it’s just a minor blip. A recent quote in Velo News (February, 2011 edition) is quite entertaining: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only insufficient gear.” (Nick Legan and Carley Fretz). For some riders that’s true. Waterproof gear conquers just about any kind of weather if you are a fanatic, a professional or a categorized rider who lives to ride. I’m neither. I just like to ride.

The ride-at-all-times approach depends a great deal on where you live. In my neck of the woods, ice and snow do a pretty good job of keeping most of us home or heading down to the foothills and valley to ride.

If you absolutely have to ride when it is really wet here are things to remember:

•Make sure you have lights and they are on

•Wear wet-weather gear and reflective clothing

•Dress in layers

•Slow down on turns

•Drink water prior to and during your ride

•Be extra aware of traffic

•Apply brakes sooner than usual; wet brakes don’t work as well

Slow down when it’s raining hard. Hitting a pot hole will likely damage your wheel and maybe the rest of your bike — and you could take an unpleasant trip over the handlebars. Road rash is not a badge of honor. It just means you crashed.

There are other things to do if you aren’t a bad-weather rider like ride a stationary trainer, weight train, join an aerobics class, clean your bike, ogle the new inventory at a bike store, walk, or have a bagel and coffee to boost your spirits.

Extra caution when the roads are wet or icy will go a long way toward making your ride a good one. Knowing when to head inside will keep you in shape for when the weather clears. The whole idea is to be able to ride when weather permits.

As this is being written, snow is falling lightly on the already wet roads where I ride. It’s bagel and coffee time for me. I’ll ride later.

Charlie Ferris

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