Tuesday, November 27, 2007

38 and raining

Date: Nov. 26
Mileage: 31.2
Hours: 2:30
November mileage: 662.3
Temperature upon departure: 38
Rainfall: .38"

Today was Groundhog Day, again. It's hard not to think about Bill Murray's bewildered face as the morning opens up to another gray slate, with snowfall at the same spot on the mountain and rain hitting the same spot on the porch as I look toward my routine: to bike, to eat, to work, to sleep, then to wake, again, to the gray. The weather has changed little in the past couple of weeks, and when I say little, I mean I'd be surprised if the temperature has varied more than 10 degrees. There's a bit of sun here, a blast of wind there, 30 degrees here, 40 there, but for the most part, it's just 38 and raining. Day and night. If it wasn't for my habit of crawling to a different corner of Juneau on my bicycle most every morning, I fear these days would be devoured by eerie sameness.

At least my rides are going really well. I have my 38-and-raining gear system to a science and the cold precipitation no longer makes me even remotely uncomfortable. I guess I can't complain about conditions in which I'm comfortable. But even beyond the variety I so deeply miss, I crave a ride that will challenge me ... force me to think ... force me to make mistakes, and learn to correct them. Give me 20 and snowing. Give me 0 and windy. Give me 95 and sunny. But please, make it different.

This weekend I hope to seek out a more challenging ride, but I haven't decided yet what to do. I don't want to launch into too long of a single ride, or two long back-to-back rides, because that may be too much of an increase to the weekly mileage for my knee to handle. I'd like to go for a campout, but unfortunately I don't have great gear for 38 and raining. It's going to have to get a bit colder before my bivy can handle the precipitation. Otherwise, I forecast a late-night onset of 38-and-soaked-through-and-through.

And to answer anybody's question who has read this far, yes, I am a bit concerned about my lack of extreme-cold experiences. Last year, during the Susitna 100, I made a few mistakes that no one who regularly rides in temperatures near 0 would ever make. Juneau just has mild winters, and access to extremes is limited, and it's easy to become complacent about conditions that never change, and forget that in most parts of the world, weather can and usually does change, sometimes very quickly. But what can I do about it? Juneau is where I live. To quote the wise sage Donny Rumsfeld, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want ..."


  1. Was nice to test my new sleeping bag on my folks deck at 5 degrees...

    hopefully I can get a few more of those in before the race in jackson...

    I still donno if this snow bike racing thing well be for me. But I sopose I shouldn't knock it, till I try it


  2. The whole weather thing got me thinking about the race I did last year. The days leading up to the the Arrowhead 135 were very mild. 3 days prior to the start, the bottem fell out. -20 to -35 was the norm. Alot of people did not finish, me included. I hope you have better luck. The amount of time and energy you have put into this is amazing.

  3. what mistakes did you make at zero degrees, that regular riders do not?

  4. I think you have a lot more skills than you realize. When I teach my winter camping classes I tell them the hardest conditions to stay warm in are when it's in the 30's and raining. If you can stay warm in that, you can stay warm in anything. For sub-zero conditions you have to figure out the layering and keep your outer layers dry. I'm confident you can figure it out since you've conquered 38 degrees and rain.


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