An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Keep a weather eye on the horizon

As a runner, I was interested in the weather, but really just in a "what's today's run going to be like" kind of way. Clothing selection, you know.

In college, I could endure most weather conditions with a limited arsenal of clothing options. Ah, the indestructibility of youth! Treadmill? You're joking, right? No such thing, even with the VERY large intramural sports facility we had available to us at the University of Washington. Loads of weights and machines, two stationary bikes, rooms for sparring, gyms for basketball and volleyball, racquetball and squash courts, a swimming pool... No treadmills.

But once I started riding, and after college, weather became less of a passing interest and more a matter of life-altering vigilance. When you triple the wind-chill factor on a bike as opposed to a run, it can become an issue.

I took a numerical weather forecasting class in college, during the year I was spinning my wheels and knocking out a whole bunch of distribution credits along the way (taking interesting courses like bio-scientific vocabulary, Greek and Roman tragedies, and creative writing). Lots of study of the affects of things that we have around here -- coastlines, mountains, jet stream, El Ninos and La Ninas... The upshot of the class was, at the time, that all numerical models break down after 3 days. Meaning that after 3 days, you'd be just as accurate at predicting the weather using the numerical models as you would be using dice or chicken bones. Or maybe worse. Maybe things have gotten better in the last (almost) 30 years, but it would seem not.

Kind of makes planning the weekend long rides a little difficult before Wednesday. And makes the stationary trainer all that much more of an important piece of equipment (along with some form of mind-distracting device like a TV and DVD player). You just don't know for sure if the weather is going to cooperate.

Okay, there are purists out there who will say that you just ride, regardless. And I've done some of that. Fenders, rain gear... "There is no inappropriate weather, just inappropriate clothing choices." HTFU. Go off-road instead of battling it out with cars piloted by (even more) blinded drivers.

Doesn't make it fun, but it is riding. Which is the point, I guess. But I do ride because I enjoy it.

Yesterday, on my commute home from work, it was raining lightly. No big deal there -- short ride of 8.5 miles (I added a couple loops to make it 11 by the time I rolled into the driveway), 45 degrees, just enough rain that I was increasing in wetness instead of it drying at the same rate it was falling. I could have gone a lot longer and not gotten cold/truly wet. Unfortunately the rain around here doesn't always fall like that.

With the smart phone, I look at the hourly forecast, the 10-day forecast (remembering that whole 3-day thing), and the radar maps several times a day this time of year. Mildly obsessive? Probably. Just an extension of the obsession of riding/running. Which bike/pair of shoes/jacket/tights/etc I'll use for the workout.

I was a Boy Scout, after all -- Be Prepared and all that.

May your days be filled with sunshine and favorable winds, no matter what it's doing outside.

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