Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘weather’

utilitaire 7.12: the good, the bad, & the windy

You know you’re battling a decent headwind when you have to pedal going downhill.  Such was the case for the day’s Utilitaire ride (which actually took place yesterday, but I was to lazy to post last night).

The destination was to be #1: Work.  And while I am not technically employed by the Red Cross, my volunteer “job” with them is about as close as I get to having to go “to work”.  Heading out today I knew there was rain in the forecast, so as most cyclists know, the best insurance against having it actually rain is to pack rain gear.  I also decided to just leave the “real” camera at home, as I didn’t want to mess with waterproofing measures  (and I apologize in advance for another series of iPhonography in this post, as well my lengthiness today … hit the delete button if you wish.)

I battled a nasty headwind all the way in.  Gusty, brutal and not so much fun.   Decided to stop for coffee and catch up on a little bit of reading before hitting the office.

From coffee stop to the office, the scenery is always fascinating to me.  I like riding through the old industrial district, passing by the old Hardwick Woolen Mill.  Last month, a fire destroyed the Cleveland Chair Company.  The reports have pointed to arson.  Demolition of the remnants of the building(s) have turned the scene into a huge and textured pile of ruins.  (And at this point I was hitting myself for not bringing along my other camera).

riding by the ruins of the Cleveland Chair Co. and the old Hardwick Woolen Mill

I spent the rest of the day at the office, scrubbing disaster response case files – making sure the paperwork is in order and that all of the information has been correctly entered into the computer system.  While I was at the office, I got some very sad and troubling news that had been announced the day before.  Restructuring and funding cuts from both the American Red Cross and United Way are eliminating key positions in our Chapter.  Our tiny paid staff has now been reduced to two.  Two.

 The Bradley County Emergency Aid (funded by United Way, closely connected with our Red Cross Chapter work) has been cut, along with the women who have worked so tirelessly helping people in crisis in our community.  Just as troubling, we are losing our ARC Volunteer Coordinator – the amazing woman who schedules our disaster team rotations, recruits and arranges for training of our volunteers, and holds our volunteer staff together at the seams.  It’s shocking, troubling, and I can’t even begin to envision what the future holds for our local Chapter.  It is difficult enough to recruit capable, willing and trained volunteers to fill all of the positions – from teaching CPR/First Air/AED to fundraising to disaster response – but if they expecting the volunteer coordination duties to be taken over by our stretched-too-thin volunteer staff, I can’t even begin to imagine what is to come.  I think it spells disaster, ironically.

Needless to say, it was a tough afternoon in the office.  It’s difficult to see anyone lose their job, even harder when it happens to friends and people I have so much respect for.

Left the office and headed back into town in fading light.  Decided to hook up with my son (on his way home from tennis practice) and my husband (on his way home from work) for a quick bite to eat.  No sooner did we sit down, I receive a weather-alert text on my phone:  hail-producing severe thunderstorm warning.  Yay.  Storms were already spawning hail, lightning and even a tornado warning directly west of us, and the fun was now heading our way.

So, do I attempt to beat the storms and head home as planned on my bike, or do I give up the night riding and toss the bike in the back of my husband’s car and hitch a ride home?  I had my rain gear.  I had insurance.  I decided to ride.

Now a quick word about night riding.  I won’t go into a full-blown review of bicycular (I like to make up words) lighting – we have a boxful of various lights in our household, but I will tell you a little bit about the lights that work very well for me.

On my helmet, I use a Light & Motion Vis 360, which I absolutely love.  As the name says, visible from all sides – front, rear, sides.  Spotlight in the front (with amber sidelights), and blinking rear light (also with amber sidelights).  On and off the helmet in a snap, long light life, USB rechargeable.

On my bike, I use a Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless (which replaces an older corded MiNewt Mini that is still in our stash), along with a couple of PB SuperFlash Blinkies on my seatpost and messenger bag.  The MiNewt 600 is a big improvement on the corded Mini; although a little heavier, it is brighter, cordless, easier to mount on and off of the bike, also USB rechargeable.

My own philosophy on night riding is kind of two-fold:

  • In town, among streetlights, storefronts, traffic, it’s imperative to be seen.  Lots of lights front and rear, top and bottom, and my high-vis yellow jacket with reflective striping do a good job making me visible.
  • Outside of town, when I hit the rural two-lane backroads, sparsely populated with no streetlights, and effectively pitch-black under a cloudy sky with no moonlight, it’s not only a matter of being seen, but being able to see.  I find that the two-light system works best for me here – my headlamp to a point further in the forward distance, and my bike-mounted light giving me a bright pool just ahead to better see pavement conditions and road debris.

nightriding: in town and on pitch-black rural roads

Needless to say, the ride home was exhilarating.  The winds that were my foe on the way into town in the morning had now become my friend as a tailwind.  It was like flying home, without much effort.  Record time, I think.  Outside of town I flushed a couple of deer in the roadside woods – fortunately not onto the road in front of me.  The sky would momentarily light up with lighting in distant clouds, and the thunder would rumble a few moments later.  It was an exciting adventure.  But I arrived home before even a drop of rain fell.

Perfect timing; it’s what happens when you pack insurance.  😉



We’ve had some crazy weather.  From warm, sunny and balmy to torrential wind and rain.  And a couple of tornados in the area, unfortunately.  Timing is everything – getting out before the bad stuff takes over.  Riding in some rain is one thing, riding through destructive wind and hail is another … and definitely not for me.

On Monday I decided to head out early in the morning for my ride – mostly because I had to make a trip into Chattanooga, and I knew the rain was coming.   It was grey, gloomy and windy and I road less than 3 miles before turning around and heading in.  The wind gusts were nuts.

Later in the day, on my return trip from Chattanooga, I made what I expected to be a quick stop at the shopping mall.  While I was inside, the worst of the storm hit.  Hearing some frightening reports from a few salespeople in side, I decided to just hang out inside until the whole mess blew over.  When I finally decided to leave, I was pretty shocked to see the damage – several big light poles had toppled, a couple of glass doors had been shattered by wind gusts.

wind-shattered door at Hamilton Place

toppled light pole, mall parking lot

One of the toppled light poles landed on top of four parked cars and did considerable damage.  Fortunately, not on top of mine.  Recent news reports have stated that there were 2 tornado touch-downs in the greater Chattanooga area, and while I don’t think the mall was officially hit, it may have been close.

Since then, the weather has been stunning – sunny and warm, still a little gusty but nothing like Monday.  While I’m enjoying the balmy days, I must confess that I am giddy over the prospect of being in snow again and doing some skiing in the mountains for a few days .  🙂

So until I return, here are a few less-snowy pics from recent days of springtime.

And for the record, today marks Day 307 of #330daysofbiking, 28 days remain.


a line-ment

bars and barbed wire

today's greening fields (... and my knee) {-P

not cycling shoes ... (LensBaby)

the good samaritan

wind, rain, sky drama ... and a bike ride 😉

Are there days when you actually shouldn’t be out riding around on a bike?  I don’t know.  But apparently the woman who stopped her car as I was standing along the road snapping a few pictures thought so.

“Can I give you a ride home?”

“Oh … no thank you, I’m fine.  Just taking a few pictures,” I say.

“Um… well, ok.”  (Looking at me sideways, apparently assessing my state of mental health).

“But thanks for asking,”  I say with a smile, trying to assure her that I had a functioning brain underneath my helmet.

Maybe if she could just see the sky the way I saw it today, from the seat of my bike … would she understand?

I didn't spot any Holsteins flying through the air...

#330daysofbiking Day 210


rain delirium


practicing for living somewhere like … Portland?


I have some “nice” fall color biking photos from days prior … but today, while I was riding in the rain, I was thinking about friends in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.  (And yes, also snowbound Minneapolis, @bikerly, @blueallez, and @myrnacgmibus).   In my mind, cities like Portland, Seattle, and Amsterdam are my idea of cycling nirvana.  And Minneapolis.   I see the videos, the pictures, read about the bicycle culture, the rideshare, the cupcakes (big incentive), and converse with a few friends who live there in the midst of it.  I am fairly convinced that I belong there.

And then I ride on a cold, grey and damp day and wonder if I really would have what it takes?  I can easily do a few days here and there in crappy weather, but am I really cut out for months on end of this kind of kind of stuff?   I dunno.  The cupcakes I could definitely do on a daily basis.  The rain riding, well … ?

For now, I ride in it … just to practice.  And to pre-qualify.  😉

#330daysofbiking Day 209 ~ in the rain


iFauxlaroid selfportrait

snow(?!) day

Shrinking wintertime real estate for the ducks.

Shrinking wintertime real estate for the ducks.

Well, happy 2010 and all of that …

We’ve began the year with a bang.  Basically everyone got sick right after Christmas.  Annoying sinus/respiratory infection.  No riding.  Not much of anything besides lying around, sipping tea, watching movies.  Think we’re nearly all on the rebound – except for Mark, who was late to the party and is still trying to recover.

Not exactly sure why school is out ...?

The weather (happily, imo) has been very “wintery” and cold for the past week.  Not quite single digits at night, but pretty close.  The pond is frozen, the birds have mobbed the feeders.  I get to wear my winter clothes – hurrah!

Today, with a chance of possibly less than an inch of snow in the forecast, the schools dismissed kids early.  It looks like tomorrow may bring cancellation of classes altogether – we’ll see.  Have to say I never understand the reasoning behind their decision-making.  Weather radar says it doesn’t look like this storm will amount to much of anything, the roads are perfectly clear.  Just stupid.

Mason and I had a nice, but brief, road ride this week.  He had turned down my offer of warmer lobster mitts before we left … and I think he came to regret it.  His hands and feet were cold, so we cut things short.  He did get to visit with a few of his friends along the way, though. (LOL).

Mason: "Rides-With-Asses"

I’ve made my round of errand-riding this week, and have gotten a few stares of incredulity.  Apparently it’s acceptable to see teens running around in 20’F temps in athletic shorts, flip-flops and hoodies, but if you decide to ride a bike around town, the same people call you crazy.  (I will never understand the Ways of The South).  I wish I could show them some of the people riding around in CO, MN, and other places – with several feet of snow on the ground. If you want to see a beastly cold-weather rider, check out this gal (via Twitter).

Perfectly toasty - grocery run. (Yes, I'm a Nutcase).