You've gotta love Vancouver on a sunny day. Look. Here's a glimpse of the tail end of Thursday's Stooopid O'Clock in the Morning ride, just to illustrate why. Keeping in mind that this neck of the woods is, in fact, a temperate rainforest, we've had way more than our fair share of sunshine to bask in this year.
You'd thing that would make it easier to accept the fact that the first wave of the Pineapple Express arrived early and with a vengeance. This was what our weekend looked like:
El Nino years are always wet and wild, but usually we get to enjoy September and October before the bad weather really begins. The upcoming long-term forecasts, with their endless days of rain, rain and more rain, plummeted my heart into a cold, damp darkness. Yes, it's pretty silly to take umbrage with rain when you live in a rainforest, so I was surprised at my reaction. It was out of character. I'm not your average fair-weather cyclist. I've been riding through the winter longer than your typical pro racer has been alive, but this year is different.
I've developed a Strava habit, you see. I don't want to hang my pretty Ti Baby up for the winter. I don't even want to hang it up for the weekend, not even with the Pineapple Express bearing down hard on us. Vancouverites have been playing Catch the Sucker-Hole since forever. I used to just shrug when the rains set in, dress for the day, and get on with it, but not any more. No. Now I'm compulsively checking the hourly forecasts, looking for some hint of when a sucker-hole might appear in the sky so I can sneak off and climb a couple of hills. Work? Meh. Who needs it? Food? Only to fuel up. Wine? Takes your legs out from under you. Sleep? Only if it's raining hard.
I don't even recognise myself. It's only a question of time before my friends and family organise an intervention, but till then, you'll find me looking something like this:
note the glassy eyes, the vacant stare, the rain dripping off my chin.
I'm just trying to get in as many miles as I can before the authorities come and place me in one of those special jackets with very long arms, but despite my Stravathusiasm I remain a little torn. I love pretty things, you see, and Ti Baby has these lovely, shiny gold rims. In the past, when I took that particular bike off the wall it was always dry on the roads, so at the end of the season the wheels were as shiny and lovely as ever. This year, the winter season has only just begun (and too bloody early at that!) and already the wheels are covered with the tell-tale black that shows aluminium has met with water. I was trying to wipe some of it clean the other day when I saw this:
I was just getting ready to catch Saturday's little sucker-hole when I realised that if I do intend to keep riding this year, I'll need to winterize. I went to Mountain Equipment Co-Op first off, to see what they would charge me for new tires. The girl there recommended treaded tires at forty bucks a pop, and I figured that made sense. Then I stopped of at Ride On Again, my local bike store, and the guys there sold me a pair of wicked tires.
They said that since I will still be on the roads I need a tire which will maintain contact with the asphalt while wicking the water away, and that made sense to me, so I spent a little more money and bought some Gatorskins. I like them and all, but given their function, don't you think they ought to be named after an amphibian instead of a reptile?
Visibility is everything in the winter months, especially with so many drivers out there multi-tasking while they drive.I picked up a cheap-as-chips cycling-specific sulfer yellow jacket at Sports Junkies so I could play matchy matchy with the stuff just east of the Lion's Gate Bridge.
You can literally see that stuff from miles away, even on the darkest day. This was taken from Stanley Park, on my Wild, Wet and Windy ride in the middle of Sunday's storm, and no, I've not re-touched the photo.
What else? Oh! I splurged on some good lights, and strap-on fenders too.
The x-man dropped by to see how I was doing, bless him, and while he was here, he adjusted them so they fit better now than they did when this photo was taken. Never in a million years did I think I'd need his help with my strap-on, but there you have it. Things change.
Specially the weather. So what if it's dark and dreary?
I have my bike and it has wicked winter tires. That means I still have my happy place, and do you know what that means?
No matter how wet the months ahead get,
in my heart of hearts every day is a sunshine and strapless dress day...
and that's worth celebrating.