Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Hath Sprung

I love lamp.
The weather forecast and cycling go hand in hand. I can't think of the last time I did not look at the weather report before a ride. Maybe its not as big a deal where in an area where you are assured good weather all the time. But in a place like the Pacific Northwest if  you don't it can make for an awesomely crappy ride.

Now that I've been Captain Obvious speaking in generalities I wanted to talk about something specific. Precipitation percentages and what they mean to a cyclist....

This is obviously not from around here. Whens the last time we had an 82 degree day with rain?! I think it was last... never.
Precipitation percentages can confuse people except for when it says 0% or 100% but even that changes when you are looking at an hourly forecast app and things are constantly in flux.

Here is a basic run down.

10% chance or rain- This means that there is no way on God's green earth that it's going to rain. But what it does mean is that there are going to be a few big puffy clouds out there. And if you happen to be on the very tippy top of a mountain or a high mountain pass that one of those puffy clouds floats into. You might feel some moisture on your face and the meteorologist doesn't want you to call them a liar.

20% chance of rain- This means it could rain. But highly unlikely.

As a cyclist you may get a little wet if you happen to ride into one of these passing clouds. But it's not really even worth putting a rain cape on. Because you're going to have to take it off in less than 5 minutes anyway.

30% chance of rain- This is were things start to get a little more interesting. This means that you are more than likely going to get wet. But it will only be for brief period of time. This is where the weather man likes to start using the term "showers". 

Bring a rain jacket and a hat if you're paranoid.

40% chance of rain- We are now fully into the "showers" mode. Really the only difference between 30% and 40% is that the duration of the rain... err, um shower patches will be longer.

This is where I probably would add gloves and booties to the clothing line up depending on the temperature.

50% chance of rain- This is when things go from being described as "showers" to being described as "rain". More than likely it will be raining a greater percentage than it is dry. Think like an hour or two of rain followed by a brief dry period between fronts moving in.

This is were the winter bike with full fenders, a buddy flap, tough wheels and tires comes into play.

60% chance of rain- You are now in the full Pacific Northwest winter wheel house (Say that three times fast...). This is where the term "drizzle" comes around. Usually drizzle is a light rain that comes down consistently for a long period of time.  Any true Oregonian spends from the end of October through the end of June (July 5th is when the unofficial summer of Oregon begins.)in this stuff. Usually the only difference in the time of year is in the air temperature.

By this point you are pretty much decked out in as much clothing and equipment as you are going to be in. From here on out it's really just a matter of the insulation factor more than anything.

70% chance of rain- This is a heavy drizzle or a good consistent rain. There might be a tiny little pause in there somewhere, but not much.

Basically you are going to get wet. And it's just a matter of staying warm on the bike. I've not owned or tested an article of clothing yet that didn't either wet through eventually or create it's own micro climate (Some sort of tropical humid jungle comes to mind.) underneath that gets you just as wet. So it's more important to keep warm without over heating than it is to stay dry.

80% chance of rain- This is full blown rain.  Drizzle is no longer mentioned. Rain makes drizzle its bitch. And really the only thing that changes from here on out is the volume of rain that is coming down from the sky at any given moment.

90% chance of rain- I really think they just have this one so people will feel a little better that it doesn't say 100%. It's exactly the same.

I think the idea is much like the extended forecast. Just look at the ten day forecast some time. They always put a "partly sunny" or "sunny" day out there around day 9 or 10 even if the rest of the days are rainy and glum. I think it's like the proverbial carrot dangled in front of our noses. Just so we continue to have a little hope.

So there is my weather cycling theory. Promise to use it for good and not evil.

Until next time...

Here's two tickets to the gun show.
 Rubber side down,

Big E

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