Monday, May 26, 2014

Riding in the Rain

The weather we have experienced locally in recent days and weeks is absolutely entertaining to me. Just when I believe I have the patterns figured out, the experiences of past seem to take a turn. The only term I can come up with to describe our weather at the moment is very Seattle-like. Seattle residents may completely disagree and having only been to the airport in their city, I am probably not a good judge of such things. However, I continue to use the term because when the day is full of grey skies and random showers, it just seems appropriate.
*Image from National Geographic here
I am aware that some people are simply not "rain people," and I happen to cohabitate with one such individual, so it is interesting to watch as his moods, attitude, thoughts and so on change when we have longer stints of cloud cover and rain (or snow). I have to admit, I am a sunshine person myself, but I really don't mind having a bit of pacific northwest weather either, particularly knowing that our hot season will be approaching soon enough and I fear the extreme heat far more than getting wet or dealing with cloudy skies.

There was an exhibit opening at our museum this past Friday evening that happened to also coincide with the beginning of the Art in Public Places "Shock Art" opening, in which the public is invited to come and see local artists' ideas for painting the switchgear boxes around town. [Side note: If you are a local, please do take the time to stop by the museum at 400 Quail Road - next to the Rec Center - and vote for your favorites. They will be on display until noon on June 11.]  After a long day of running around, I wasn't entirely certain Sam would want to ride, but when I inquired, he seemed ready and willing, so we proceeded as planned. The weather had been much as described above, but I had no idea the torrential downpour that would begin as we arrived at the museum.

It started with a rumble and I asked, "Is that thunder?" It was difficult to make out the sound as there were many people wandering through the museum and I just wasn't sure what I was hearing. As we meandered by the floor to ceiling glass to the courtyard, we could see tremendous amounts of rain gushing from the rooftop. "Wow!" I said. "What is going on?" I really was perplexed, although I should not have been. I should know to check the weather a little more carefully, but we watched for several minutes as the downpour continued. The drops were absolutely massive and after our flooding at the end of last summer, I think many locals have a small amount of panic when that much liquid begins to come out of the sky.

Normally, if I'm anticipating this sort of weather, I have the appropriate gear to get where I need to without becoming soaked through; however, this was not one of those days. Cotton summer dress and light wool sweater was all that I had on me. Sam was no better and was lacking the extra layer of the sweater I had at least managed to grab on the way out the door. We waited until things had lightened a bit and decided that we didn't want to take the chance it would get even worse, so we headed out. Standing under the cover of the front entrance, we stared at our soaked bicycles. "Well, we are getting wet whether we like it or not, so we might as well just go," was the only thing I could think to say. A few departing individuals wished us luck as we made our break for it. All we could do was wave and laugh at our ill-preparedness. Thankfully (at least if we go the more direct route we took home), we don't live far from the museum.

What caught my attention specifically about this ride was that I was grinning ear-to-ear the entire ride home. I couldn't help myself. First, I found it amusing that the short time we'd ventured out had brought such an extreme shift in the weather; but beyond that, I was actually enjoying myself. I love splashing in puddles and getting to feel the water pouring down - whether walking or riding. When I looked ahead at Sam, I could see he was absolutely miserable. He was upset with a vehicle that had splashed him as they drove by, and I knew that all he wanted was to be home. At one point, I had to stop to wait for traffic to clear because there was a closed portion of the path that I couldn't get by without entering the main motorized traffic area. By the time I caught up to Sam, I knew he wasn't happy. I know that I have fenders on my bike (and he does not) which helps keep the splash of water beneath away from my body, but I honestly wouldn't have cared either way. It was simply comical and fun to be "stuck" in this rain. I did feel badly though that he wasn't enjoying it as much as I was at this point. Ultimately though, I understand it just really isn't his sort of weather.

Slowly, we are arriving at more typical weather (meaning sunshine until some point in the afternoon, and then a quick downpour of rain), but I'm finding myself wanting to actually go for a ride as the storming begins, and I can't help but wonder what is wrong with me? I suppose I am simply wanting to enjoy something that I know will be a rarity in the coming weeks and months, and in part, it feels like I'm getting to relive a bit of childhood - splashing and playing - for a small snippet of time.


  1. I'm in Tucson today and rain is not a concern. In fact, on a previous trip here earlier this year, I was sitting in a coffee shop when a we heard a thunder clap followed by the sound of large rain drops. The shop's patrons spontaneously erupted into applause. It had been something like three months since the last rain. That's why I have a second home in Tucson - because of the lack of rain, lack of gray skies and dependable weather.

    Dependable weather is important to me these days because I spend more of my time in Seattle, where rain is too regular an occurrence. Luckily, 90% of the rains in Seattle are light misty or drizzly rain. Not a torrential downpour - mostly just an annoyance for cyclists. Fenders are a must in Seattle during winter months. Its the road spray off the tires that can be the worst - especially the spray in your face off the front tire.

    Even in Seattle, year round I am able to get in a ride three to four days a week - usually. There is an occasional week where it seems there are no dry days.

    As far as rain gear - I for one cannot wear anything "waterproof" when I cycle. Even "breathable" Gore-Tex will leave me soaking in sweat underneath - wetter than would have resulted from the rain. The Gore-Tex clones are even worse - less breathable in my opinion. Instead, I might wear a breathable wind shell with a tight weave of the fabric, but no coating to deter moisture. I find that the windproof fleeces work well too. For me, these two options suffice in all but the worst rains.

    Eye protection is important in rain. Good non-fogging eyewear with clear lenses help - especially at speed on the downhills.

    Your post took me back to my childhood, where I grew up in the high desert climate of Boise Idaho. I can remember the thrill of a summer rain. A respite from the heat and something to help knock the dust down. Never then, did I worry about a sudden rain.

    1. Our weather has been mostly cloud-filled with small bits of rain and I think that was why the downpour kind of took me by surprise. However, the downpour for a few minutes is very typical here, which is why I should know better.

      I don't have any clothing that is completely rain proof, but I have better items that I should probably have chosen had I known what I was in for. Really, it wasn't too bad though as wool, even when wet, doesn't seem (other than perhaps the wet dog smell) to be too bad. The eye protection you mentioned is critical, and is probably why Sam had such a rough time. Since I'm almost always wearing glasses for vision purposes, I'm rarely caught off guard. Somehow though, the hail and hard rain always manages to find its way behind the glasses (except for my actual sport glasses, which I generally choose for long rides).

      I think Idaho and Colorado probably have very similar climates, as they are both basically (at least this part of Colorado) high deserts, so the rain is definitely welcomed, even for brief moments during the heat of summer.

  2. I remember the first time I got caught in the rain, I thought something like "huh. I'm actually not melting." It was an epiphany: if it rains, I get wet. That's all, no drama.

    The last time I got caught in a major downpour was hilarious. I had my rain gear with me even though I wasn't expecting rain. What I didn't have was a cover for my brand new Brooks saddle, so naturally I tied my rain jacket over the saddle and arrived at working looking like a drowned rat!

    1. :O) I can identify! Save the Brooks!! I've actually been okay (knock on wood) with my Brooks saddles getting wet. As long as I let them dry out naturally and don't try to rush it, there doesn't seem to be too much damage. That said, we don't get a ton of rain, so if it was a daily - or even more frequent - occurrence, I would definitely be far more protective as I know the water will break it down.

      It's definitely a wonderful feeling to realize we won't melt in the rain. I've always enjoyed playing in it, but I think as we grow older, sometimes it's easy to feel as though it's not okay to enjoy those same activities. But, I had nowhere to be in this instance, so I had absolutely no problem with being wet.

  3. I'm with Sam! And there is something very wrong with you....but you are also very fortunate to love the rain. Oh please, just give me day after day of sunshine, let the showers be very, very brief and any heavy rain happen only late at night while I sleep!

    1. Indeed! There are many things wrong with me...

      I wish you (and my Sam) only days of sunshine. :O)

  4. I think everyone is getting the wrong Idea of me. I don't HATE the rain, just on certain occasions. I will admit to disliking puddles very much!

    1. You don't hate the rain... just being outside in the rain... or being inside because it's raining. :O) I think you need to find an appreciation for puddles. They are the best part of rain.

  5. I like riding in different weather conditions - including rain. Light rain is fine. Down pours are not pleasant but I've done that, too. I prefer a good rain cape and a helmet cover. Rain chaps are nice if you have a cycling rain jacket. I wouldn't want to do a long commute in rain but just riding around recreationally in light rain is fun. I've had bad experience with puddles because they often hide deep holes. I avoid puddles.


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