Tag Archives: weather

Snow Gets In Your Eyes. Spring Edition.

We Portlanders are a weird bunch. All winter, we gripe about not getting enough snow. If we get half an inch and the schools don’t close down, we grumble about not getting our snow days. Yes, even adults, especially if we work in schools! Unless you are a transplant from the Northeast or Midwest. Then you laugh at the rest of us.

Anyway. Now it’s March. It’s officially spring. And we’re getting snow — so of course we are complaining that we DON’T WANT ANY MORE SNOW! It’s simply not the right time for us. Bad snow, bad!

My husband has a snow day today. He drives a bus for one of the schools in the West Hills, and they are closed. I’m off too, ostensibly on spring break, but the other day I did bike to work during a fairly substantial snowfall. And while I was biking, I had snow in my eyes and a snippet of song in my head. I wrote up a full parody today, just for you. The original song is “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” My version is AWFUL. Please forgive me. :-)

They told me it was spring

And my heart took wing

For I am found astride

My bicycle outside

Every day with pride

Then, they said it just might snow

On the valley floor

Oh, I did not believe

But on the morning’s ride

Snow got in my eyes.

So I rubbed them and I roundly cursed

The weather prediction folks

Yet  today I still have found a way

To get there with all my spokes (with all my spoookes….)


Now laughing friends still ask

Isn’t this a task?

Oh, so I smile and say

No, this is no prize

Snow gets in my eyes

Snow gets…in…my…EYES!


Bicycle Commuting Mama: Just for Fun

It’s winter break, and I work in education, so I’m not bike commuting right now. We’ve had rain, rain, rain for days or maybe weeks or months now, and I don’t bike for pleasure in the rain. Nor do I bike to the grocery store or anywhere else in the rain if I don’t have to! So there.

But today, we had a bit of sunshine! People in various other parts of Portland and Vancouver, Washington were reporting SNOW, but we didn’t get any where we live; just more rain and then a bit of sun.

When the sun came out, I happened to be taking out some garbage and recycling. And I said “Hey! It’s actually fairly pleasant out here!” and I ordered everyone outside. My eldest child grudgingly went outside for maybe a minute, but I and the other two went for a short bike ride; about one mile.

Of course, the weather changed before we got home — we had a graupel shower! We were just a few blocks from home, so that was just fun, no big deal. And now we’re back to cold, wet and dreary — but we got outside!


Bicycle Commuting Mama: It’s Raining Again!

It rained yesterday and today, and yes, I rode my bike. I’ve written before about riding in the rain (see below), but I wanted to especially point out today that one doesn’t necessarily need special rain gear to bike in the rain.

If you live in the desert, you may not even need rain gear. You might be comfortable just driving or taking the bus on those few wet days.

If you live in an area with moderate weather, or you don’t commute very far, you can get by with normal-people rain gear. I live in Oregon, but I only commute about two miles each way. I’m still wearing a cheap, $10 rain poncho I bought at Target a few years ago. If it’s really wet, sometimes I put on an old pair of hiking rain pants and tie plastic grocery bags over my feet. And if it’s really, really bad — like inch-of-rain-in-an-hour bad — I get a ride.

But if it rains constantly where you are, or if you commute further, you might want to get proper cycling rain gear.

Here are some of my other posts on cycling in the rain:

Two Days of Biking

I rode my bike two days in row. Shocking, I know!

Today was the second day of 30 Days of Biking.  I rode my bike to work as usual yesterday, but not today. Today’s weather included wind (with high wind warnings), rain, hail, sunshine, and temperatures in the low 40s.  This morning was awful, and I rode the bus to work (while also missing a connection and having to wait 10 minutes without an umbrella, but whatever).

The rain held off long enough for me to pick up the girls and walk home, and then cleared up again after dinner so that we could take a short ride. And I do mean short! We just went around the block (which is actually several blocks long), maybe half a mile or so. But it counts — 30 Days of Biking doesn’t require you to commute or go car-free, just ride a bike at least once a day.

And then the setting sun blazed out when we got home.

Bicycle Commuting Mama: Rain, Rain, You’re Okay

I looked out the window after school today, and saw rain pouring down on students and teachers as they loaded the buses. It didn’t look good for me, and I’d parked my bike outside and left all of my rain gear (cheap poncho and plastic bags) in the Freeloader bags, where it was already getting wet.

I waited a bit, looked out the window again, and checked the weather forecast, but the rain simply wasn’t going to stop.  I got myself together and rode off, getting just a little wet from the knees down.

It wasn’t too terrible. I picked up one child at her after-school program, and dropped her at home (the oldest was already home; she stayed home sick today, yes, she is old enough). I thought about leaving the youngest at daycare, and letting my husband pick her up. Why stay out in the rain longer than I had to?

Then I asked myself, what would super-mama-bike-o-rama-riding Sarah Gilbert do? Yeah. I’m pretty sure she would ride in the rain. So I set off again, for the daycare provider’s house, half a mile away.

I picked up a cheery girl who was thrilled to be riding on the Xtracycle with mom all by herself.  She sang “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring,” and then broke into “if all the rain drops were lemon drops and gumdrops, oh what a rain it would be.”

I had to sing along. We sang it all the way home, actual raindrops falling into our mouths, “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.”

I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that.

Bicycle Commuting Mama: A Little Wind?

I’ve been bicycle commuting through all weathers this winter in Portland, Oregon. In December we had a week of sub-freezing temperatures, as well as the usual rain. A snowfall, fortunately, came while I was on winter break, and I didn’t have to ride in it. Last week, we had the rain that wouldn’t quit. Today it was a house-shaking, window-rattling east wind.

So what do you need to know about bicycle commuting in the wind?

Dress for cold. Even if weather.com says it’s in the high 40s, you’ll probably feel cold, and even more so if it’s raining at all. So wear your woollens, hat, scarf, gloves, etc.

Tuck your scarf in. You don’t want that thing blowing around. Put your scarf on first, then your coat. If you like , pull the scarf over your mouth. But do you remember this from the Little House books?

Laura’s veil was a slab of frost against her mouth that made speaking uncomfortable…
These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder

If it’s cold enough, and your scarf is over your mouth, you too will have a slab of frost. But if it’s not cold enough, your scarf may just get slimy! Yum!

Wear pants. Well, there are probably people who can and will wear a skirt anyway. I’m not one of them. A straight skirt that won’t fly up at all might work. But pants are warmer.

Wear your leg bands. Even if you have an effective chain guard like I do, the leg bands will keep your pants from blowing around and will keep cold air out.

Tie everything down. Make sure your belongings are secure. If you’re an Xtracycle rider, tighten up your Freeloader bags so that everything inside is secure.

Yell into the wind. I do.

“Howl! blast you! howl!” he shouted. “We’re all here safe! You can’t get at us! You’ve tried all winter but we’ll beat you yet!”
–Pa Ingalls, The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder

OK, I don’t yell that. But I do sometimes let out an “Aaaaaarrrrrgh!” when the wind is pushing me back. It helps.

Other helpful posts on bicycle commuting:

Low Temperature Cycling

Cycling In the Dark

Photo by Sarah McDevitt http://www.flickr.com/photos/smcdevitt/ / CC BY 2.0

Bicycle Commuting Mama: Are You Ready For Rain?

Because I’m not. I looked out at the downpour this morning in Portland, Oregon, and promptly went into whine mode.

Yes, we’ve gone from sub-freezing temperatures to a soaking rain. Temperatures are getting into the 40’s, so at least we’re not so cold. The problem is that I don’t have rain pants I had some, but they disappeared this past spring (I still haven’t figured out how). They were very close to being worn out anyway; they were just old hiking pants that I bought in, oh, 1993 or 1994, and the seams were beginning to come apart.

I am wearing a rain poncho, which is fine for the top half of me. But it really isn’t enough protection.  Today I suffered through an entire morning with cold, damp legs. I have an idea for making rain chaps and shoe covers out of an old vinyl tablecloth, but I haven’t implemented it yet. If I don’t do it this week, I’ll definitely do it over the winter break, when I’m not working.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/candescence/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Five Ways to Beat the Cold Without Turning Up the Heat

It’s 33 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Portland, Oregon as I write this, and we’re actually on the warm end of a week-long, record-setting, face-freezing cold spell. It’s been a great opportunity to develop our skills in keeping warm without turning the heat up and using more than our share of energy. Our normal thermostat setting is 68, so it doesn’t get terribly cold in here, but some rooms do get colder than others.  Here are five methods for keeping warm; I’ve tried them all this week.

Wear Wool
Wool happens to be a natural fiber and the best thing to wear in cold weather. It keeps you warm, insulates even if it gets wet, and stays clean and odor-free even without daily washing.  I generally wear wool socks and a wool sweater indoors and out, and add a wool hat and coat for outdoors. I’d like to have wool or wool/silk long johns for everyone, but those are more expensive. The kids wear wool tights.

Bake Cookies
A hot oven warms everyone, and a good dinner or sweet treats will warm your bellies, too. Don’t forget some hot cocoa, tea, or coffee to go with your goodies.

Snuggle Up
Body heat works. In fact, in an emergency, it’s recommended for hypothermia. At home, snuggle under a blanket with your sweetie or a child or two, and you’ll warm right up. Add a cat or dog in your lap if desired.

Dance It Out

“He played the Highland Fling, and Irish jigs, and out on the clickety-clattering floor Laura and Carrie danced till their breath was gone.” — The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder

OK, for us it’s more likely to be High School Musical or songs from Glee, but dancing warms us up just as well as it did Laura and Carrie (incidentally, my youngest is putting on a dress and sunbonnet this very minute).

Use a Computer
Computers generate heat, and are very capable of overheating. That’s why a room full of computers that are on all the time will generally have air conditioning, sometimes even in the middle of winter. So if you’re cold, snuggle your feet right up to that tower on the floor, or curl up with your laptop, and catch up on your Facebook relationships.

I won’t say that we never turn up the heat. But it’s a good plan to try other options first – especially if you can have fun with it!

Photo by Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgk/ / CC BY 2.0