I received an actual e-mail the other day from an actual reader who was asking me an actual question. Actually, she was asking for “insight,” which is quite more than someone like me might be expected to deliver.
Nevertheless, we thought this would be a good time to inaugurate a new Dear Abby-style feature here, which we will call:
Eugene Bicyclist: Rolling answer man!
So, off we go.
Hey, I have a question: So I’m moving from D.C. to Eugene and, of course, I’m nervous about the rain. I want to be able to ride all the time, and I know I have fairly good resistance — it gets cooooold in the city o’ DC. Some days I’d get into the apartment and take my mondo-gloves off, and my hands would be bright red and screaming with pain.
But I don’t know how I’ll fare in an Oregon winter. How do you deal? I’m talking: What you advise every Eugene biker should possess as far as clothing and whatever accessories (?) as well as … um, mentality?
Hope you might have a moment to lend some insight. Thanks!
If it’s any comfort, we all start out nervous about the rain. You will find, however, that your nervousness will quickly be replaced by disgust. Then despair creeps in. And from there on out, it’s festering hatred.
But don’t worry. We have really excellent beer here. Or, if you don’t drink alcohol, you may find solace in the boundless array of teas.
I hate to blather on about myself, but in this case we might be best served my personal story. You see, I grew up in a place that was dry — a desert, actually. My arrival in Eugene required several difficult, but doable steps:
Step 1: Identify problem. “The weather here just sucks! Every time I go outside I get caught in the rain. I’ve been wet for weeks now.”
Step 2: Attempt to avoid problem. “The weather here just sucks! But I think I’ve got it figured out. My supplies for the winter will consist of a tall stack of books, lots of tea and some craft projects. I will fire up the wood stove. I will listen to the rain pattering on the window while I ‘curl up’ with books and do decoupage.”
Step 3: Get really bored. Replace tea with beer.
Step 4: Grasp this bullish problem by horns. “The weather here just sucks! You know what though? Screw it. I’m going to do what I want to do. I don’t care what is happening outside.”
Step 5: Identify solution. Go to REI and buy rain pants and coat.
Step 6: Change outlook. Begin using the term “sun break.” A sun break is when — in the course of a gray, overcast and/or rainy day — the sun emerges for three or four minutes. You begin to see this as an exciting opportunity, as opposed to a sadistic tease.
Step 7: Become tuned in to the natural world. I finally learn — the hard way — that it matters not if you look at the sky and it is blue. Do not allow this to give you false hope. If it is sometime between the months of November and May, you take your rain gear with you no matter how nice it may seem at the moment.
Step 8: Rain gear starts leaking; buy new rain gear.
Step 9: Consider contact lenses.
Step 10: Having tried rain booties with little success, I decide the better course is to keep a pair of shoes in the bottom drawer of my desk at work. When I get to work, I do the Mr. Rogers thing, changing my shoes and slipping into my cardigan. I wear these same shoes at work every single day.
Step 11: Rain gear starts leaking; buy new rain gear.
Step 12: Overcome stubborn case of Roadie Snobbery Syndrome. I break down and finally buy and install a bell, lights and fenders on what I formerly considered a serious road bike. The fenders make it sound like I am riding around with a tin can of nuts and bolts in my water-bottle cage. I do not care. I was taken aback, though, that a pair of simple plastic fenders cost me about $60. But there are cheaper options. If you are handy and a DIY kind of person …
… you can make creative use of an old water bottle.
Step 13: Keep your stuff dry. This could require some heavy duty waterproof panniers or a waterproof bag of some sort. About 10 years ago I purchased a Timbuk2 bag. It seemed insanely expensive, but it is still going strong.
Finally, it’s probably worth a look at what’s inside my bag.
Here’s what we have at the moment:
- Important rumpled papers and receipts
- Allen wrenches
- Spoke wrench
- iPod earbuds
- Used napkin
- Random USB cable of uncertain origin and purpose
- AAA batteries for my lights, perhaps good, perhaps dead. But often some random combination of these will make my lights work better.
- Two pencils with broken tips, plus an eraser
- Old crumpled “Eugene Bicyclist” sticker
- Lots of back-up valve stem caps
- What appears to be a petrified piece of bagel
- Tarnished old dime, perhaps placed in the bag in the days when you could make a phone call with a dime
- Patch kit
- Spare tube
- Set of three tire irons, plus two that were part of a set of which one broke
- Small pump
Additionally, you will often find in my bag, though not pictured today, my lunch and a U-lock.
Now if you add up the cost of the rain gear, the waterproof bag or panniers, the fenders, good lights and the bike itself, you could probably save money by going to craigslist and buying yourself a used car.
But you’d never do that, right?
Anyone have any other thoughts about cycling through the winter? Leave a comment …