Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's In Your Weather?

So far this week I haven't been riding much. I'd like to officially blame it on false weather information but the truth is most of the blame falls on me, as it should. Here in the Northwest where the jet stream enters the country our weather conditions are hard to predict, thus weather forecasters aren't always right.

Even with the sophisticated satellite information now a days, sometimes the best data gathering methods are people and experience. I remember years ago when I was a salesman in the restaurant industry I made a weekly call on two sisters who owned a coffee shop in St. Helens, Oregon. One Monday about this time of year they both told me that by the following Monday we'd have snow. Since it wasn't near cold enough and we don't usually get snow in November and the weather people weren't saying anything about snow, I told them no way is it going to snow. I'm glad we didn't put any money on it because sure enough within about 4 or 5 days we had snow. When I went back the following Monday I asked them how they knew. They said all you have to do is watch the elk. When they start coming out of the mountains and start feeding on the grass then you know the weather is changing. So I guess we can pull the plug on the expensive satellites and watch the elk as our ancestors did.

Each day this week brought predictions of some kind of adverse weather for the next day. Either high winds or large amounts of rain or both. Monday I rode the bike and just about got blown off the bottom deck of the Marquim Bridge. No problem, it was a good riding day but I noticed there weren't too many other bikes out. The forecast for Tuesday had heavy amounts of rain for Portland and Vancouver but it didn't materialize. There was one brief downpour in Vancouver but other than that it would have been a good riding day. Same thing for the trip to Eugene yesterday; a downpour south of Portland but it was blue sky and sunny when I arrived in Eugene. It also would have been a good riding day, although a little gusty.

Today I chose not to ride due to predictions of high winds but it would have been okay. When I got home I hopped on the bike and went to the store. Three non-riding days in a row produces some kind of poison that develops in the bloodstream. I think.  Anyway it's bad for you, it has to be because riding is good.

And here's what Mt. Hood looked like this afternoon. It's hard to see the elk but they must be there somewhere because there's snow all over it.

I would like to hear about your method for determining whether you ride or not. I realize some choose not to ride this time of year and that's understandable. Some will only stop riding if there's snow or ice, and others live in areas where weather is not a factor.  But if you still ride and are in an area with adverse conditions, does the weather report play a big factor in the decision to ride or not? And a second question is where do you get your weather information? Because the elk method is looking pretty good right now.

Riding and thinking; sometimes.


  1. Hi Mike,
    My general rule of thumb is if it's raining when it's time to leave, I more than likely won't ride. However, if it's dry then I'll usually take my chances on riding home in the rain. There are exceptions, of course. All that said, since getting my MP3-400 last summer I have fewer reservations about wet and wild ... except after dark. That's a combo I don't like at all.

    Cheers, and rubber side down!

  2. Mike:

    I have established rules too. I added one to the list this year because of the heat. I can only take 90F+ for a week, then I take the air conditioned car.
    I don't like torrential rain which is what we have been getting for the past 2-3 weeks with no end in sight. It's trickier in the colder weather as I worry more about the frost and the cold effects on tire traction below 5C (40f).
    We don't have the Elk Warning system here preferring to monitor the garage ROOF warning system. If the roof is white and temps below 4C then no riding. I leave before 7am but by 9am the roads are usually bare. As you age, you tend to take less risk

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  3. Hi Mike,
    unfortunately my rules for riding have been undermined by my new employer's dress code :-(
    Basically I am confined to riding at the weekend now, that is if weather, temperature (>0C) and life plays along...

  4. Chuck,
    Thanks for your input and for stopping by. Our neighbor has the same plan as you. If it's raining when he goes to work he takes the truck. He doesn't mind riding home in the rain though.

    Ride safe.

    Very profound - "As you age, you tend to take less risk". This is very true. And temperature plays a big factor in deciding to ride. The older I get it seems I'm less tolerant to the cold. I rode all day today in the rain and 45 degrees. I saw one other rider this morning and one as I was coming home late this afternoon. Four out of the five working days this week were good for riding - today was not one of them. The customers I saw today were shaking there head as though I was crazy. Thanks Bob for commenting.

    That's a bummer about the dress code but that might change someday. I hope the weather is good for you this weekend. Thanks for your comment.

  5. I have been riding less too, and it's getting me down! I scan the weather reports, even going as far as the "hour-by-hour" forecasts on the Weather Channel to find an hour or two window, but here in the Cascade foothills it's been nothing but rain.

  6. Lance,
    I get that down feeling too when I can't ride when I'd like. I keep guessing wrong about the weather too. Yesterday and today I had places to go but chose to drive. This morning I planned to ride until 5 minutes before leaving. The radar had a big green mass with a yellow center but the rain wasn't too bad. That's why I wrote this post, it seems too vague to go by the data available.

    Thanks Lance. You haven't been around for awhile, hope everything has been okay.

  7. Better a late comment than none, eh? If there's ice I don't ride. Otherwise I do it. The only other consideration is who I have to haul that day as in taking someone to lunch. In rare cases I won't ride if it's sloppy wet and I have an appointment that I can't show up dripping to.

    As to weather prediction, I just go outside.

  8. Having met you Dan I appreciate your comments and posts even more. I like your weather prediction "formula". Those sloppy wet days are the ones that take their toll getting on and off the bike 4-10 times. Of course usually there are some parking structures available in the mix.

    Thanks for your input.
    Take care...