Thursday, January 12, 2006

AAAAARRRRRGGGH!!!!

If it's not wind and rain, it's rain and wind. Just about the time I thought I was going to totally flip out, run down the street pulling off and flinging down my gear one piece at a time, while yelling crazy things....we finally got a reprieve.

Two days ago in the paper I saw an article that said we have had 21 consecutive days with rain and were facing more. This is not just rain, it is RAIN! I guess I shouldn't complain too loudly because there are folks who are facing the crisis of their homes sliding down hills or having trees crash down on their roofs. Still, commuting on the bike is a challenge right now.

Our state climatologist says that we are suffering the effects of a "la nina" phase which could either bring us a polar express or pineapple express. Guess which one came? ( hint, it's wet but it ain't that cold right now )

It's finally getting a little lighter in the mornings when I leave home. I've sort of fallen into the eight to five routine over the winter. I head out around 7 AM and get home about 6 PM. For a couple of months, now, it's been dark when I leave and dark when I get home. This is really cramping my choice of routes. Normally I take the freeway in the mornings and then enjoy some back roads on the way home that I have especially selected for their relaxation and mood-improving value. When it's dark and wet my ability to safely enjoy the twisties in severely compromised. Until we get a couple more daylight hours it's pretty much straight line to work and the same home. I am really getting embarrassed by my squared-off tires!

Back to the ride. Yesterday morning I am tooling down the freeway and looking at the fields on both sides of me. Did I say fields? What I meant to say was "lakes". Everything is flooded. There's a quarter mile stretch of Hwy 99 that's raised up a fair amount. With the flooded areas on both sides I swear it's like riding on a causeway through the middle of a lake. The fields that aren't flooded are so wet they look like oatmeal that you've poured milk onto. Do you know that point where the milk isn't sitting on top yet but the oatmeal has soaked up all the milk and one drop more will put it over the edge? The muddy fields look the same way. I'm sure you would sink up to your waist if you tried to walk out there. I could see some of my back roads as some of them cross the freeway and run parallel in spots. Cars were slowly driving through standing water that seemed to be fairly deep. As much as I wish I could be riding my "good roads" I'm totally happy not to turn my bike into a personal watercraft.

Did I mention the wind? It's not too strong in the mornings. The ride home is another story. The wind has had all day to build up its strength. With this newfound energy the gusts reach 35 to 45 miles an hour. Fortunately for me the wind is from the South and I am travelling North so it's a tail wind for the most part. The tricky part is when I take the exit to go West for a while. There's about 5 miles where the gusts come from the side. Hey, I have no problems changing lanes, I just like to know where and when!

Then, like turning on a heat lamp, the rain stopped mid-morning. Could we dare hope? Yes, the SUN came out! I didn't get to take the bike out at lunch time but what a contrast my ride home was to the night before. The previous night I rode in rain that was coming down like what the farmers refer to as being similar to what a cow does on a flat rock. My visor was fogged, the visibility was totally limited, and my tires were spraying water. Thank goodness for my retroflective vest because I know car drivers can't see too well, either. Of all the times I ride this is when I feel the most vulnerable. I can't see, other drivers can't see, and I'm never sure of my traction.

Compared to the night before, last night was almost glorious. For precious miles my tires actually got to feel dry pavement. I could look up and actually see a gap between me and the clouds up higher. Visibility was good, traction was good, my mood was good, life was good. Looking to the foothills to the East I was entertained off and on by the lightning strikes that created interesting light shows. When I got home I wrapped my wife in my arms and shared the joy. That's the essence of why I ride!

1 comment:

Mad said...

I loathe riding in heavy rain and wind at the same time, each on it's own is fine but the combination is truly vile.