The rain returns

I’m back in Portland, after a wonderfully refreshing break. The area had a small bit of rain while I was gone, which mercifully cleared out most of the smoke, and put out many of the fires.

Today, I was back out on my bike—returning from an eye doctor appointment—in my first “real rain” of the season. That’s how we know fall has arrived in Portland. Contrary to popular belief, it does not always rain here. Our summer months—July, August, and most of September—are reliably and almost completely dry. It’s the other nine months where things get soggy. Unfortunately, within the past few years that dryness has now seemingly reached a climate-change point where it turns the West Coast into a tinderbox pretty consistently by the end of the summer.

Still, many of us do struggle with seasonal depression, and the rain and gloom and cooler temperatures are a part of that… particularly for those of us who bike for transportation.

Thus, I experienced quite a mixture of feelings today, swathed in my rain jacket, rain pants, helmet cover, and rubber boots, wearing sunglasses over my dilated eyes as I navigated the rain and gray skies for the 15-minute ride home. (I arrived soaked and dripping, and hung up all my gear in the kitchen, signaling the return of another seasonal ritual.)

I noticed how so many of the trees seemed to have begun turning, even just in the week I was away. The equinox happened the other day.  And now, here is the rain.

It will be intermittent, interspersed with warm and sunny days, probably until mid-October, when the season will really settle in. I expect I will do much less pleasure bicycling, focusing more on commuting and grocery trips, beginning around that time.

This leads me to ponder how I will navigate the weather on my bike trip. A large motivator for the trip is to “follow the sun” and pleasant temperatures around the country, effectively opting out of the cool and rainy months here at home. But I know that I will still encounter some rain, and possibly other challenging weather—maybe even hail or snow in mountainous regions—so I will need to be prepared for this. How will I choose what to pack, to be able to protect myself adequately, yet also keep things as lightweight and non-bulky as possible?

A friend forwarded me an ad for a bike trailer today, and I looked at it and wondered if it would be a good style of trailer for me. What were its pros and cons? How would it compare to other options, in size, shape, style, portability/convenience, price…? What kind of bags or “luggage” will I end up taking, and how will they interface with whatever style of trailer I end up using? As I mused aloud about these questions to my friend—who lives on his bike, up and down the West Coast—he reminded me that planning has its place, but the magic of “living by bike” lies largely in taking the leap, and allowing what unfolds to unfold.

It’s kinda scary.

And kinda exactly what I think I want and need.

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