I’m looking out the window. I think it’s a good place to start. The weather app on my phone (Wunderground) has already told me that it’s 48F, with an 8mph wind that makes it feel like 44F. The ground is wet, with puddles in all the places there are puddles when it has properly rained. The current chance of precipitation is 15%.
I look inside my soul. What’s there?
Now these are the kinds of conditions and the type of forecast that just befuddle me. Were it a few degrees colder, I’d say there’s no riding today. Cold and wet are tough, and they get tougher as you approach freezing. If the chance of rain were slightly higher, it’d be no go, too. I don’t mind getting wet incidentally, but I don’t often sign up for a soaking. The wind too, is pretty middling. Over about 10mph and breezes turn to daggers, but under 10mph is just what I’d call “New England Normal.”
There are other factors in the equation of course. How does the body feel? Did I ride yesterday? What do I have going on today? The previous days’ weather is also a consideration. Are the trails all wet? Does that make today a road ride, if anything at all?
Too many questions and I become a world champion fence sitter, looking out the window as I trundle about in my morning rituals. Are there drops falling out of the sky? How gray is it? The more questions I can fashion, the future answers I’m likely to find.
This all reaches some sort of fever pitch as the day threatens to tip over into nothing but work. I either say “Screw it!” and head out the door, or I say “Screw it!” and pour another cup of coffee.
This week’s TCI Friday wonders how you parse these scenarios. Do you have hard and fast rules, or do you get into the swirl of indecision like I do? What would you do with the weather I described above?
You know who can help with these dilemmas? Our friends at Shimano, sponsors of TCI Friday.
My cycling goals are process oriented, not performance or outcome based. My only specific goal this year is to log 156 rides of any length, intensity, or terrain (mountain, gravel, road, fat) for a 3 rides per week average across the year. If I’m on track and not feeling it one day I’ll skip, if I’m slipping too far behind I’ll ride in a frickin ice storm. This helps me keep from overthinking conditions or any other details of a given ride.
I too struggle with these choices. When I was younger the rule was “no bad weather just bad clothes.” Now it’s more a case of “bad weather, it’ll take 45 minutes to find all the good clothes, screw it. I usually end up going for a run and if it’s cold enough and trails are frozen then that’s perfect.
I’m doing the same exact thing this morning in New England (48 deg, 15% chance of rain). I too am great at this, but I’ve noted one truth over the years: I’m never not glad I said “yes”.
Living in Seattle area. Have fenders for those days. I probably ride with fenders 70% of the year. I even do gravel rides with fenders. 45F is prime temp though I prefer 65F with short sleeves. The world is so green right now. It would be a shame to miss it all.
Robot, the ATL metro gets a surprising amount of precipitation.. It is actually a higher number of inches per year than Seattle. Unlike the PNW’s omnipresent gloomy moisture, here it simply dumps super hard and then the sun comes back out. As to what I’d do in your aforementioned scenario would depend on my level of jones for a ride. Typically, if we’ve just gotten rinsed I’ll avoid most* trails and just head out my door to do a longer urban single speed grinder on my fenderized commuter. There are certain years here where it will rain nearly everyday for more than month around May/June. I have rolled some FS roads in N GA when I really needed a fix. Alternatively, I’ll drop into my gym up the way and do my thing there and or go for a run. I like to mix it up so no big deal. *There are a few trails in the region that drain amazingly well and/or stay wet almost always so these are fair game.
My hard/fast rule used to be never start a ride in the rain- other wise anything goes. Now for commuting: never below freezing (rain ok) and recreational: never start in rain but it’s ok to bail because of future weather.
In the mid Atlantic these days 15% rain chance really means “we have no clue”. My rule used to be “cold, dark, wet; pick 2” but I’m old now and one is my max. We’re having early March weather here in May but I managed to commute every day this week; the promise of better weather to come plus the early sunrises helped.