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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Running Sucks...

No offense if you enjoy running.

I know there are some people out there that are totally into sadomasochism too but that doesn't mean I'm going to sign up.

My SSHW and I decided to go on a run.

I could feel my flubber jiggling as I shuffle, shuffle, fwap, fwapped my way down the road.

It's an odd feeling to not be taxed by my heart or breathing but to have placed in my legs hurt that haven't hurt in a long time.

Why did I agree to this again!?

Oh yeah, I wanted too...

I'm pretty sure SSHW is getting tired listening to me wine. 

I want to do this.

But I'm going to need to walk just for a bit...

That's always nice.

Getting lapped by a little kid on a bike.

What is he about 2?

His little legs spinning a cadence that track racers would be proud of.

Constantly reminding me how much I'd rather be on a bike.

The day is sunny at least.

And SSHW looks really nice in running pants.

That's a plus...

I don't know.

Maybe I could keep going.

One more hill.

Sweet baby Jesus!

Thank God we are done.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Riding Side By Side

On a beautiful sunny day I had the luck to go out on a ride with JP. 

There were no routes that had to be adhered too. There were no intervals that needed to be done. Only some open road, some nice conversation and a pretty day.

While we were riding we cycled side by side (Unless cars were coming of course.). Bar to bar.  As we rolled along the open country roads to the south of my home it got me thinking. To be able to ride like that can really show the Quality of a person.
There are so many type A personalities constantly pushing the pace. Half wheeling (This happens when a person is always a half a wheel length in front of you. And if you try to pull up even with them. They speed up to keep ahead. And so on and so on, until you both are ramping up speed. Sucking the fun square out of what you were trying to do in the first place. Can you tell I'm a little sensitive about it? Yeah, me either.) you to prove a point or measure dicks or whatever the hell it is when people think its a competition.

No. This wasn't one of those times.

We just rode our bicycles.

We conversed about all manner of things. The last club ride. New cars. The best beer. Equipment. Whatever...

I think cycling side by side is a lost art form. People forget its significance. The art of conversation (Especially since cyclists tend to be anti-social.). I met my SSHW that way and she has been the greatest thing in my life. To be able to share an experience while doing something that you both love doing makes it all the more rich.  It's hard to put your finger on it. Or put into words. But it's there and you both know it.

Its just awesome.

Thanks for reminding me JP.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, March 1, 2013


A Cherriot Bus in Salem.
As a cyclist, I ride in traffic every time I throw a leg over my bicycle.  As a human I also notice patterns in behavior.


I know people say stereotypes or profiling is bad. And in some ways I agree. But in a lot of ways I think it's part of our inherent makeup as humans. We are trained to notice patterns as a means of survival. If something tries to kill you once. An alligator, a tiger, an SUV, whatever. You'll be on the look out for something like that again. Noticing those things keep you safe.

But I also want to be clear that these patterns aren't a perfect science. I'm not saying every single one of these observations are true. They just feel true... Got it? Good. Lets move on.

It's hard not to notice how certain drivers and their vehicles seem to fit patterns.
For instance, why are Cherriot bus drivers consistently some of the most aggressive drivers in town, yet school bus drivers are some of the nicest? Is it because one is harped on about safety and the other is told to keep on a schedule (It's rhetorical. But I suspect that's the case.)?

I honestly don't get it.

In over ten years of riding a bicycles in urban and rural environments I can only think of one incident where I felt in danger while riding my bike because of a school bus.
Where if I think of Cherriot's, I couldn't count all the dangerous maneuvers and near misses on all my fingers and toes. It's ridiculous.

How high is your truck and how good can it mud!?
 There are lots of other vehicles that I look out for too.

The jacked up 4x4 pickup truck comes to mind. The pucker factor is always high if you hear the whirring of some Super Swampers coming up behind you on a country road.

Semi trucks are a mixed bag. Some are great. Always giving you extra room when able and passing a reasonable speeds. Other's fly by with about two feet to spare.

I wouldn't mind this set up.
 Any car with a bike rack is usually going to give you a wide birth. Part of the same tribe and all.

Watch out for crazy old people with RV's and no commercial driving experience. Sketchy...
People who drive hybrids really think of themselves as "earth friendly". So when they see you on the road they feel a kinship with you. However beware! They are the leading cause of "smug"  in the major metropolitan areas. Just saying...

Tuner cars will generally fly by you while you're riding and yell something out the window. Its usually hard to tell if its obscenities or encouragement. Or at the very least they stomp on the throttle so their fart pipe blares as they go by. But just like cars with bike racks, they seem to give you a wide birth. My guess is they don't want to dent or scratch their ride if they happen to hit you. Those ground effects don't just pay for themselves you know.

I'm know there are a lot more. But that's fine for now.

I hope you all have a good weekend. Until next time, thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E