Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No BAD Weather, just BAD clothing - Festive 500

Cyclists can be quite devoted to their favorite weather forecasts! Some of us even have multiple forecast apps on our smartphones and multiple weather bookmarks in our browsers - or maybe that's just me. I have started to learn which sources are the most accurate and where to find the best hourly details. I can also try to fool myself by shopping around for the most optimistic forecasts, as if ignoring the reality of a prediction for bad weather could make it go away!

Now the only optimistic forecast I saw about today was that it would positively be miserable and raw. But I'm no fool. Remember my number one rule, courtesy of Fear Rothar, is "Better looking at it than for it".  My frequent riding companions know that I also have very strict rules about tempting fate, by discussing weather during the ride. The phrase that will get you moved to the top of my * list is "At least it's not raining/sleeting/snowing" while we are riding together under very threatening skies. Other banned phrases include "It could be worse" and "Now we'll have a tailwind".  But some have confused a ban on tempting fate, with going out unprepared. Let's be clear. Not carrying a jacket is tempting fate, just as much as saying "At least it's not raining." Looking for the brightest forecast, so you can get yourself out the door, should never preclude carrying or actually wearing raingear! It's not bad weather, it's bad choice of clothing!

At the start of Wednesday's ride from the Studio, I asked if anyone there was foolish enough to ride on Thursday, given the dire forecast. One hand went up. But the same hand that lifted my spirits into thinking I might have some company in my misery on Thursday, later tweeted that he wasn't really insane after all. Actually the tweet said, "Don't come in on my behalf. Not going out :-)"

But the forecast seemed to indicate things might start to improve at 10AM and definitely after noon. And besides, I have all this great raingear, which would just have been a waste of money if I don't ever use it. So I got dressed in cycling gear, along with a lot of that rain gear, and headed over to Ride Studio Cafe, on a bike with fenders and lights for the 10AM Festive 500 ride, just in case anyone else was stubborn or foolish enough to go out in these conditions. When I arrived, Richard Fries was sitting at the counter, typing away on his iPad. He said the hardest part of riding in these conditions is actually looking out the window! Because once you are out there...

Still he passed on joining me!

I looked out the window some more...

But I would have no company to love my misery. So after stalling as long as I could, I put back on my rain jacket and hi-viz vest and headed out. (I also had a warm base layer and rain pants, overshoes, helmet cover, waterproof gloves, along with a spare pair of gloves packed away in the seatbag).

I did decide to pass on the full planned route for the day out to Noon Hill. Again, risking straining my shoulder by patting myself on the back, I will say the ride is a great one, and one that will be new for many of the RSC folks.  So I suggested to Patria that we swap it to Friday, replacing a ride we had used for an event back in the summer. (So if you are coming Friday and have already downloaded the route, go back and get the Noon Hill/Blue Moon route.) Instead I opted for a shorter ride myself with a planned lunch in at Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord. I started fantasizing about their soup and desserts before I left. I know the idea of the Festive 500 is to ride off the excesses of the holiday eating binge, but I'm riding a lot and I need more calories!

Well there's looking out the window and then there's studying a forecast, like this one from last night.

Somehow I was fooled that since we only had rain and mild temperatures in Watertown overnight that no snow had fallen anywhere else nearby. I discovered my error at I pedaled into Concord, where not only was there clear evidence of plowed snow, but the temperature was substantially cooler. And the rain was still hammering down.

I also started to become aware that my "Waterproof" gloves weren't living up to expectations, and I would soon need to break out the spares. I adjusted course and headed south to Verrill Farm at Nine Acres Corner. I knew I'd find hot soup and tasty desserts there.

My hands were pretty chilly when I arrived, so I poured a big bowl of soup and used it to help thaw my frozen digits. The clerk asked if I wanted the soup in a bag to go. I looked up and said there was no way I was leaving this warm dry place until I regained the feeling in my fingers that were desperately trying to soak up all the heat from the bowl of soup. She looked at my red fingers clasped tightly around the container and understood.

I again thought of Richard Fries' comment about looking out the window. I agree with the sentiment, but then decided that the hardest part is actually the pain that came when the feeling returned to my fingers, as I tried not to yell out loud! I eventually regained enough feeling and finger coordination to take another photo and tweet. I then took out my dry pair of gloves and liners. I found a plastic veggie bag for my soaking waterproof mitts, before stashing them in my seat bag, that also contained some other spare clothing that I preferred to keep dry.

My rain pants and jacket and overshoes were all performing quite well.  As evidence, my woolie top and shorts and leg warmers were still mostly dry. My feet were also still in good shape. Gloves are just such a challenge since the act of holding the bars just seems to press water right through. Carrying spares is the only thing I've really found that works!

Well that and deciding to head home. It seemed that once I decided to call it a day that the rain slackened off substantially and it almost got bright out! Well not really bright, but compared to earlier in the day, it was a bit less raw and miserable. Still, I stuck with my decision and made it a short one. I got home and told John it was lovely out, so he took a break from work to head out himself.

The good news is I have 420 of the 500km done and there is a fine forecast for Friday. Saturday is looking like there may be some potential to register on the Rapha Epic scale, but we will just have to wait and see...



  1. Wow, just wow. I am feeling pretty unmotivated about my riding. Off to the store to find some winter gloves and then, who knows? Thanks for the encouragement and the smiles.

  2. Pamela, you & Emily O'Brien are at the top of my short-list pantheon. Jim Duncan

  3. Jim,

    You are entirely too kind. I am honored to have my name spoken alongside Emily's, but she is in a class all by herself!