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I’m a Fairweather Cyclist and I’m Okay with That

7-day weather forecast for London Ontario, April 22-28, 2014 -- Today, raining and 8 degrees and windy.

Do you ride no matter what? Or are you, like me, someone who watches the weather?

Sam pulls together a group to go for a short lunch time ride every Tuesday and Thursday, starting today. It’s the right kind of length for me–maximum two hours on the road. And the right kind of speed–they pace to the slowest in the group. It also couldn’t be more convenient. The group meets just outside the Philosophy Department. And Sam has assured me that we don’t knowingly go out in the rain.

But I’m even more fairweather than that. It’s not raining right now, but it was cold when I left for work this morning. And windy. It had been raining earlier, when I left to go to the Y for my swim. Environment Canada said it might rain into the early afternoon.

If it’s wet, or even just threatening to be wet, and it’s cold (under 10 degrees C), and windy (“Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50” was today’s forecast), then at least for the time being, I’m not interested.

Why? Well, here’s the thing. I just got my road bike out of winter storage the other day and pumped up the tires (with some help from my FB friends, who had to remind me about that little valve that needed to be unscrewed first).  I’m keen, even excited, to get back on the bike.  But my last ride of the season, which was also only my second ride on the road bike ever, was miserable. So horrible was it that it prompted me to write a post about suffering.

So I want my first ride of this season to be a good experience.  Rain was not the main issue on that early-November ride that left me wondering whether I really should have bought a road bike. Even the cold wasn’t so bad.  But those gusty northwesterlies? No thanks. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that you can never cycle a whole route with a tailwind. At some point, around some corner, it will happen that you turn into a headwind. So there’s that.

Add to that that this morning, it just felt like a dreary morning to get on my bike for the commute in.  So I bailed.

For a moment I felt as if this fairweatheredness of mine said something about me, like maybe that I lack grit or something like that. I may not be the grittiest of them all, but hey, I was in the pool at 6 a.m. this morning and swam over 2000 metres before a lot of people I know were even awake!

I ran 2-3 times a week through the polar vortex winter, increasing my distance steadily from January to March.

I’ve already ridden my (commuter) bike home in the rain this spring, so it’s not as if I won’t do it.  But I won’t “go for a ride” if the weather is bad.

That’s where I draw the line.  I want to enjoy my time on the bike. I know that sometimes we all get caught in the rain. I can live with that. And I know that sometimes the wind comes up. I can live with that. But I won’t knowingly go for what’s supposed to be a fun ride over the lunch hour when that’s in the forecast.

That may change.  But for now, I’m a fairweather cyclist and I’m okay with that.

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