Sunday, October 19, 2014

Michigan Weather. . .

If you don't like it, goes the saying, wait five minutes. . . it'll change. . .

[This quote is actually attributed to Mark Twain, in reference to New England; I'm not sure Ol' Sam ever even set foot in the State of Michigan.  I'm also reasonably sure that pretty much every state not named California has 'borrowed' this quote for itself.

The meteorologist-types of my acquaintance tell me that the Great Lakes actually have a 'moderating' effect on Michigan's climate.  But the saying is common among my fellow-Michiganders (or are we Michiganians? I can never remember), whether justly or not. . .]


My Tigers having finished their season early this year, I'm left to talk about . . . the weather.

No, not really.  I'll just revert to my other favorite autumnal blogging topic: tracking my bicycling miles.

This has been a tough cycling season for me.  First off, last winter was extraordinarily long and cold, and whereas I'm usually out on my bike in early March, this year the snow and ice and cold temperatures didn't abate, so as to allow me to get out on the road, until the very last weekend of March.  So I lost nearly a full month at the beginning of the season.

Then in April, I came down with a nasty respiratory virus.  My normal protocol in such instances is to get plenty of rest, and cut back on my miles (riding, say, 17 miles instead of 25 or 30; gotta keep the legs working, dontchaknow), and in the fullness of time, the virus runs its course, and I haven't lost too much of my conditioning edge (heck, sometimes, a ride can even have a 'blow-the-gunk-out' effect on my respiratory system).  This time, though, every time I put on even very modest miles, my lungs responded by getting even sicker, and threatening to fling small chunks of themselves through the air.  I finally went to see my doctor, who prescribed an oral steroid for me, and that, plus a couple weeks off the bike, finally brought me back to my normal, radiant good health.  But by that time, it was early May, and I was basically starting over at building up my miles, two months behind schedule.

And so it went.  My schedule seemed to conspire against me more than usual, as well. Events like funerals, or marriage-enrichment conferences (Jenn and I started working in marriage-prep classes for our parish this year) kept coming up, pushing my rides to a less-convenient time, and obliging me to ride fewer miles than I'd planned.  And then I had a mild relapse of the respiratory virus in August, so I had to skip another ride or two again.

So now, here I am, in mid-October, when I'd normally have something like 1200 miles on my legs and lungs (a couple years ago, I was over 1600 by late October), and wondering how many hundred more I'd be able to get in before the snow flies and the shoulders of the roads are covered with ice, relegating me to the stationary bike for the winter.  And I've got 811 miles in for the year.

My 'basic goal' every year is 1000 miles, and I've usually reached that by early/mid-September, so I can set my sights higher.  In recent years, I've averaged about 1400 miles a year, give-or-take, but this year, I'll have to be pretty diligent just to make my 'basic goal'.

Which brings us back to the weather.  Fall weather can be unpredictable in my part of Michigan, as the seasonal transition takes hold.  It is more prone to be rainy and windy during this time of the year, and the temperatures are trending downward.  For several years now, I've been blessed to have most of our 'Weather' happen during the week, while I'm at work, and can't get out on the road, anyway.  This year, though, the 'weather' has come on the weekends to a greater extent than usual, forcing me to consult forecasts, trying to work my riding schedule around the particular 3 hours when the rain will be taking a break.  And of course, that leaves me subject to the, uh, accuracy of the forecasts.

So, three or four times in the last few weeks, I've targeted a three-hour window in the rain pattern, and gotten out on the road at the first sign of non-threatening skies, only to find that, 15 miles out in the countryside, the weather had a different schedule.  Riding in the rain is not my favorite thing to do, but once you're out on the road, you don't have much choice.  One recent Saturday,  I was a little late getting out on the road, when I knew I had about a three-hour rain-free window.  So, when I was about five miles from home, the skies opened up, and the wind-machine turned on (20-25 mph, directly into my face, which seemed kinda over-the-top on Mother Nature's part).  It only lasted for a mile or so, but you can get awfully cold and wet in a mile of downpour, against a stiff wind.  Another time, I left the house under blue skies, with the promise of the weatherman that I had a good, solid three hours before the rain returned.  Within three miles, I was being pelted with sleet (SLEET!  add my normal 12-mph to the wind-borne velocity of the falling ice-needles against my face, and you have a distinctly unpleasant experience), all the while seeing blue skies off to the west.  For the rest of the ride, I was mostly riding under sunny blue skies, but as I turned onto the final 7-mile run back toward home, there was a large, dark, ominous-looking cloud directly ahead of me.  Nothing to do but keep riding, and by the time I was even with where the black cloud had been, it had moved off to the east, and I missed getting rained on, for once.  Which, you know, was just fine with me.

So anyway, as things sit, I'll have to ride some pretty aggressive miles, and hope that the weather stays ride-able into December, if I hope to make 1000 miles for the season.  Which is by no means given.

But then, in the last two weeks, the typically schizoid fall weather, driving rain alternating with bright sunshine, has meant that I've twice driven home at the end of a work day, under a stunningly brilliant double rainbow, so, you know, there's that. . .


  1. We do use Twain's saying here, as well. I always know that if we have a particularly nice day in a non-summer month, we must be prepared for god awful weather in two days. Never fails!

    Since taking up bike riding this year, I've had a few instances where I've gotten to the path and looked north, seen dark skies, so headed south and it was beautiful. Location, location, location!

    1. Especially this time of year, when the wind is more likely to be 12 mph than 5, I usually select my route according to whether the wind is out of the north or the south, so I can fight it on the way out, and have it push me home. . .

      But then, other things like home football games also come into play. . .

  2. I'm also reasonably sure that pretty much every state not named California has 'borrowed' this quote for itself.

    Yup. I've not lived in every state of our wonderful Union but I've spent at least some time in each of the 50 and can verify what you say is true. The strange thing is the "locals" all seem to believe their WX is unique when they invoke that ol' saw.

    I admire your diligence and tenacity when it comes to your riding, Craig. You're not THAT far off your basic goal, so here's hoping the WX cooperates with you.

    1. I got in 33 miles yesterday afternoon, so I'm at 844 now; if I can average 26 miles/week thru Thanksgiving weekend, I'm there. So it's close, but definitely reachable, with a little luck. . .

  3. Not to go completely off-track here, but your Lions made one heck of a comeback yesterday. There's that to enjoy in your sporting world.

    1. Oh, Jim. . . Jim. . .

      You have to understand what it's like, being a Lions fan. Being 5-2 and leading our division means nothing. We've been in this situation countless times before, and still finished out of the playoffs (like last year, for instance, and a couple years before that). . .

      I mean, I am genuinely appreciative of your encouragement. . . but this is the LIONS we're talking about. They've trained us to count on NOTHING until it's absolutely, irrevocably secured. And even then, we're suspicious that somebody messed up, and once they figure it out, we'll be screwed again. . .

      But, yeah, I'm kind of a troll if I don't at least admit that it was a heck of a comeback. And against Drew Brees, at that. . .

    2. Well, I'm hoping the Thanksgiving game this year truly means something and I can root for your Lions with purpose. If I have to keep breaking out my "The Lions get to disgrace themselves nationally, as opposed to locally as they usually do" joke again, in my Thanksgiving post, people are going to start pelting me with rotten fruit.

    3. I'd love to accommodate you, Sully, I really would. And who knows, maybe this is the year. I mean, the Falcons and the Cardinals have both been to Super Bowls, and their history is about as bleak as ours. But you know, in the Super Bowl era, they've been to the playoffs ten times (yer Pats have probably been to the last 14 or so in a row), and won exactly one playoff game. So, it takes a lot to get Lions fans fully engaged, if you know what I mean. . .

  4. True story- my office mate came in this morning exalting the glories of the beautiful Saturday we just experienced followed by gnashing of teeth over the sharp turn to nasty and cold Sunday.
    We live 12 miles from each other.
    At the Summit house it rained near all day Saturday and topped out at 47 degrees. Sunday it was sunny and partly cloudy topping out at 55.
    12 miles. Two different worlds and it's often like that round hereabouts.

    1. This! My husband works 12 miles from home. It's not unusual for him to come home to two feet of snow and tell me the grass was green and he didn't see a flurry all day.

    2. When Jenn and I were engaged, I took her to Chicago to meet my family. While we were there, I took her downtown to show her the big city sights. It snowed a foot while we were downtown, but when we got back out to the 'burbs that evening, it had been sunny blue skies all day. . .

    3. Yep. It's like that round here abouts more often than not. Lots of the precip comes in narrow bands After sweeping through the hills and mountains a few miles on most sides of us. That's part of what made the floods a couple years back worse, you could watch on the radar as the mountains SouthWest of us herded the clouds into a straight line that went straight up the local river. All the rain dropped into the river all at once.

  5. I can't believe I didn't post a comment when I was here yesterday.
    Now, I forget what I was going to say.
    I am pretty sure it has something to do with the attitude my brothers-in-law have toward the Lions.
    One will at least talk about them.
    The other is like, "Meh!"

    1. Myself, I will watch warily, until they actually clinch a playoff spot. Then, I'll start allowing myself to enjoy them, just a little. But, you know, they've won exactly one playoff game since before my 2nd birthday, so 'failure' is more-or-less the default setting. . .