Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cycling Weather

Olympia is turning into winter these days. We’ve had a frost one day this week and more than a few near-freezing mornings. What truly signals winter is the wetness, which is definitely here to stay for the next few months. This fall is drier than normal but all that means is less heavy rain and more showers, mist and fog. Combined with the short daylight hours, it’s easy to see why people find it depressing. The weather discussion yesterday used the term dreary. The day was gray and damp. It’s the damp that seeps into a body and chills deeply, a not particularly fond memory that I retain from days at Fort Lewis. As a civilian these days, I have much better winter/rain gear than I had in those days and don’t have to stand around in the cold and damp. Last night at the weekly peace vigil was the one time I was actually cold but I enjoy the company and the opportunity to remind my fellow Americans that there’s a war going on. That kept me warm enough.

Trees are mostly bare now. What foliage remains is brown. On a clear day I can see the capitol dome from my balcony again. The open canopy changes the feel of the landscape allowing the maximum amount of the limited available light to reach the ground. During the bright summer, the feel is just the opposite. A few places on my bike routes are thick with evergreens and are especially dark. Too much of that would indeed make for a grim landscape but my limited time passing through isn’t enough for the darkness to overtake me.

Last weekend I rode my first 30 mile route since moving to Olympia. I pretty much linked all of my shorter routes and a long section of the Chehalis Western Trail and ended up with 30 miles. The route took me through some pretty rural areas that are not far from the center city where I live. I passed woods, pastures, horses and cows. I saw students at the wooded campus of The Evergreen State College and rode the Chehalis Western north for the first time. The day was partly sunny-partly cloudy and cool. I wore my rain jacket the entire ride and never broke a sweat.

The previous day’s ride was my first wearing winter gear since the summer, which was good because it was also my first rain soaking. Unlike Sunday, Saturday was wet, with some possible clearing later in the day as drier weather was moving in. By mid day I could see some possible clearing and decided to ride out and see what happened. Starting out the air was cool enough for me to climb the very steep hill from my place wearing my rain jacket. Even cranking up to cruising speed after the climb didn’t warm me up that much. I took the Olympia Woodland Trail to the Chehalis Western, encountering the random raindrop as I rode. That ended after about five or six miles when the rain started coming down in no uncertain terms. The rain shower lasted for a while and was enough for me to put on my rain hood under my helmet. My rain gear worked well enough, as did my fenders so it wasn’t bad.

This morning is foggy and overcast. The fog’s not thick but visibility is limited—I can barely make out the ridge on the west side of town, maybe a mile away. The forecast is for wet but nothing major so I think I’ll find an opening to ride by late morning.



Post a Comment

<< Home