By John Ray
In response to my last post, I got this from a good friend in Portland “Beautiful! Will you be tackling how to navigate large hills, lots of rain, and the all important, maintaining hairstyle in upcoming posts? I’m almost convinced to make the switch.” Now you would think someone from the Rose City, Stumptown, the Mecca of Commuter itself wouldn’t need advice from some Ozark hillbiker, but since she asked…
Large Hills: Assuming you are not trying to tackle Council Crest Park (or climb up to Mt. Sequoyah) on a single speed, hills can be your friends. Yeah, I know, they don’t often act like friends, but it’s all about your attitude. If you try to ignore them, or just see them as an obstacle to overcome, you will always be at odds, but if you consider them a gift, a true opportunity to build up strength and stamina on the uphill and ride free and fast on the downhill, if you allow for the extra time and necessary energy, if you make them the milestones of your riding adventure…well then, we have a very different situation don’t we? Also remember that hill’s teach us one of the greatest lessons a human can learn; humility. I’d prefer to learn that on a bike over just about any other method…
Rain: Since the forecast calls for precipitation five out of the next five days here in NWA, this is no hypothetical situation. Assuming first that you can be safe (proper equipment, no lightning or excessive winds) riding in the rain is possible, sometimes even pleasant. First, accept that you are going to get wet. No matter how rainslicked up you are, the water will find a way. But unless you are immediately going into a very important meeting or straight onto stage, stuff dries. Especially clothes that are engineered up there in the Pacific Northwest. It really is amazing how quickly some of the fabrics dry and perform. Second, it is perfectly acceptable to carry a dry change of clothes with you. Throw in one of those super wicking swimmers towels and you are set. Last, give yourself the extra time that is needed to navigate wet roads and make the change into dry duds when you arrive. While all that may seem like extra work, I’d rather spend my time focusing on that than fighting for a parking space and making a harried dash through the deluge for the door. You are going to get wet either way. Why not prepare, embrace and enjoy it?
Hairstyle: Wear a beanie. Seriously. What do you expect from me?
I’ll conclude with this. If we wait for the conditions to be perfect before we ride, chances are the bike will sit flat tired and rusting in the garage. Choosing to ride in all kinds of weather only increases one’s appreciation for those truly magical days of perfect temps and long straightaways with a tailwind. Hills, rain and helmet hair can all be used as excuses to stay slaves to our internal combustion isolation or can be embraced as invitations to overcome, learn, connect to our community, environment and our truer selves.
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