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Monday, March 21, 2011

A Crappy Ol' Rainy Day

Weather-wise we don't have a lot to complain about here in San Diego County.  We do get the occasional rain storm and as a bicyclist I've learned my lesson about attempting to commute 15 miles each way in the rain.

Today is that rainy day... a crappy ol' rainy day.  I always look forward to my hour and a half bicycle commute - it does wonders for clearing the head - but as it happens my commute takes me through Mission Valley.  And when it rains the roads in Mission Valley get flooded.  Last time I tried commuting in the rain I got boxed in; the whole Mission Valley area was underwater and my boss had to come fetch me in his truck.  Not something I want to make a habit of.
A crappy ol' rainy day.  Wet, drizzly, miserable.  Ugh!  The view from my front yard.

One suggestion would be to try a different route... say cut through Presidio Park and down to Morena... but that would add yet another half hour to what is already a 90 minute commute.  At some point you have to ask yourself: does it make sense to ride 20 miles in the rain?

The compromise I've reached with myself is: if the rain is pouring down, skip that day's bicycle commute.  San Diego dries up quickly... I'll be back in the saddle in just a day or two.

This "rain compromise" is the price I pay for working in a location so far from my home.  Not wise, I realize.  If work was only 5 miles away I'd ride regardless of the weather.  But my job is 15 miles from home.  Well, normally we have such profoundly beautiful weather that the health benefits of a 30 mile round trip commute vastly outweigh the occasional inconvenience.  Just to be sure: I'm not complaining.  I'm NOT complaining.

I don't mind riding in light rain.  It's the flooding that discourages me.  As long as I can avoid flooded areas I ride like the wind.  But in San Diego we are naive about rain.  In their superior wisdom commercial developers put entire shopping complexes in a river bed.  Is anyone surprised that every year Mission Valley gets flooded?  I'm not.

Just now as I sit at my computer and clack out this little essay I can hear the sirens... obviously a car driver or two couldn't negotiate the rain factor in their morning mind-stupifying commute... right now they must be thinking: what a crappy ol' rainy day.  I agree.  Soon I'll fire up the Jeep and be on my way.  Much as a I feel a traitor to my bicycling brethren.  I'm driving today... and this is my shame!

Here it comes!  Here comes the fire engine to attend to whatever accident has occurred on these wet roads.  Why do San Diego drivers have such a difficult time with the rain?  I'll tell you why: because we're not used to it!

There it goes! 

How about this hypothetical: what happens if by chance you were out bicycle camping and the rain started pouring down?  Well, bicycle camping is a horse of a different color than bicycle commuting.  If you wake up to rain, stay in your tent until there's a let-up.  Under lightning conditions it's probably not wise to be out in the open riding a steel frame bicycle.  If you are under a time pressure - an unwise position to be in; but many camps require reservations and thus you must be there by a certain date - then you'll have to tough it.

And yeah, I can hear it now: we ain't made of sugar, we won't melt!

I've ridden in conditions where there was water right up to the hubs.  At that time I had to ask myself: why am I doing this?  This isn't Portland; we're not in Seattle.  We're in San Diego, where we have pretty much year round beautiful weather.

Give the rain its due.  When it pours drive or use the public transportation (another unworkable option in my case).  Take a break and put on a little weight.

This crummy alley looks pretty bad under the best of circumstances but when it rains... whatta dump!  The rain brings out the ugliness of our little Nasty City.
Recognize what you can control and what you can't.  I can't control the weather.  So today I choose not to ride because today is - ready, class? - a crappy ol' rainy day.

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