Saturday, June 05, 2010

It's sometimes darker after the dawn

The sky outside has turned a dark olive color at least an hour after the official sunrise. A downpour replaced the restful, gentle rain that had been falling since the earlier thunderstorm moved through several hours ago.

The National Weather Service warns of possible severe thunderstorms with hail up to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, heavy downpours and excessive cloud to ground lightning.

I can picture Rantwick at this point gleefully rubbing his hands but I don't share the durable and irrepressible Canadian's love of riding in severe weather. It's all fun and games until a million volts of electricity actually connects with you or a tree happens to come down as you are passing under it. I ride under a LOT of trees. I also labor up some lengthy grades. Crawling along I feel like I'm just awaiting the cloud's pleasure.

The most intense weather is scheduled to cover both commuting periods today. The morning segment is supposed to give way to a steamy center with some hazy sunshine to set up another batch of severe storms in the evening.

I usually let the weather win a round or two. If it goes on too long I get aggravated and defy it.

A full repair queue awaits. Yesterday I finished a tuneup on a vintage ladies' Raleigh 3-speed with a fully enclosed chain. The bike is in good condition, so it took a nice shine. I even Simichromed the better bits of chrome plating. In contrast, I followed that by doing a repair estimate on a Raleigh 40 years newer and far more battered. The owner bought it at a yard sale. Fortunately, he is realistic enough to accept about $200 in repairs as part of the cost of his bargain. Other yard sale shoppers come in with higher expectations and lower budgets.

The three-speed looked like a great ride for a short commute. I could envision riding it on a rainy day with a nice classic rain cape keeping my work clothes dry. We're not talking about 14 or 15 hilly country miles, though.


Steve A said...

You rarely hear it mentioned, but one definite benefit from helmets is that they definitely help with hail. I try to avoid knowing more than that from first-hand experience.

Camilla, said...

Ok, hail not good for cycling in. Though I maintain I'd rather hail than wind.

Had a very pleasant rainstorm to cycle in on Sunday over here in Old York however - real summer rain. Soft, not cold, the kind where once you're drenched you decide that 'ahh well, its just water'. I enjoyed it!

cafiend said...

A cheaper or older helmet with fewer vents is better for excluding hail.

When a storm is really intense a lot of factors erode the margin of safety. I have been hit by gusts of wind hard enough to shove me sideways. A blinding sandstorm came off a parking lot one day in the first downdraft blast of an intense squall.

Genuinely blinding rain is worse for drivers than for me, because it creates a sheet over their windshields. It's similar to riding in the dusk. The cyclist can always see better than the motorist.

Then there's the lightning. In Maryland, on much easier terrain (and with a much younger set of muscles) I felt all charged up by thunderstorms. I could cram it in a big gear and dare it to try yo catch me. In New Hampshire hills, with more miles on me, I can only get frisky and defiant on the downhills.

There will be more suitable rains. I won't have the sense to come in from them.