Posted by marilynch
Rain, Cold Temps, and More: Biking through the Seasons
Cold snap in Salinas on Dec 8, 2013 got me to stop biking there at sunset. Thursday night prior, I’d biked Salinas bundled up and with a scarf over my face, feeling in solidarity with people who bike in cold-weather climates. But the novelty of freezing temperatures wore off for me–too many years of being pampered by mild winters of the Monterey Bay region. On Dec 8, I reveled in the gorgeous sunny day, happy to be biking Salinas, even in brisk temperatures. But when el Sol went down, that was it for me
But not for the guy below: Tom, a local bicycle mechanic. He’s training for a triathlon, and looking forward to a leg of Amgen in 2014 as well. He also made the decision to go car-free, doing his part to reduce carbon emissions by using this far greener transportation. So how did he feel about the cold snap? His lungs weren’t happy breathing in that cold air until he bought a mask for biking. He was all smiles when I met him Dec 8.
In a hurry?
- If you’re ready to roll, even if it’s rainy or cold, scroll down to “For those who want to bike in any weather.”
- Need to warm up with a hot shower? See where to shower and change.
- Bike-and-ride tips–transportation for you and your bike if the weather turns too intense.
- Rain affects visibility! Consider high-visibility apparel and accessories.
- Review California bike laws and personal safety tips, including required equipment for biking in the dark (including skies darkened by rain or heavy fog).
- Local weather updates from National Weather Service http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr/ or on Twitter @NWSBayArea or @CharlesBell74. (You don’ t need a Twitter account to view tweets; simply refer to http://www.twitter.com/NWSBayArea or http://www.twitter.com/charlesbell74.)
Not so sure?
Scroll down for tips “For those who want to make it a bike-and-ride outing” and “For those who just want to snuggle in and think about biking.”
Rain, Cold Temps, and More:
Biking through the Seasons
Is that coastal fog, or does the grey sky mean it’s gonna rain?
Maybe, especially if a visitor, you aren’t always sure whether grey skies mean you ought to cancel your plans for the bikeways. Check the NOAA weather forecast. Unless there’s a day-long torrential downpour predicted, many people will still want to bike, at least part of the day.
A quick and easy way to check those forecasts is via the above-mentioned twitter feeds.
If you’re in a cold winter climate and dreaming of Monterey County, it’s true: People bike here in December, people bike here on New Year’s Day. Nothing’s guaranteed about weather, of course, but you’re highly likely to get in some good bike time throughout the winter.
That cyclist above in the yellow slicker likes bicycling Monterey County even on a rainy day.
A Monterey County native-turned Londoner and now in MoCo again, I spotted him gliding down the bike path along the Don Dahvee Greenbelt that parallels Munras between the Del Monte Shopping Center and downtown Monterey. He graciously agreed to halt momentarily so I could take this photo, then went on his merry way. Rain clearly hadn’t dampened his spirits. That bike got his endorphins pumping, and the joy of biking in any season is very evident in his smile.
A rainy day also didn’t keep two young cyclists from biking to the Boys and Girls Club in Seaside….
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Whether you like to dodge puddles like the locals above, look for bike-and-ride options like the visitors below, or prefer to hang it up on a rainy or cold day, there are tips here for you.
Erik’s DeliCafe has the soup on in any weather. Notice that “Bicycling” sign in the window at an Erik’s? At Erik’s in Seaside, they sweeten the pot for cyclists morning, noon, and night on Thursdays.
How’s that? They offer a HER Helmet Thursdays discount–as do hundreds of other HER Helmet Thursdays locations in Monterey County! Those discounts are for males and females, locals and visitors who bike. (HER=Hotels, Educational and Entertainment spots, and Restaurants, and related places.) Click here to learn more.
The info below was previously published in December 2010.
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The two San Francisco Bay Area cyclists above were biking MoCo on a December weekend. With heavier rain threatening, when I met them, they were checking out the bike-and-ride option of the Monterey-Salinas Transit System. But while waiting for that bus, they knew what to do: ask a local where to get some good eats. Gosh, so many choices…they ended up at one of the many downtown HER Helmet Thursdays spots, Turtle Bay Taqueria.
How does winter affect your biking time?
November 19, 2010 brought heavy rain to MoCo, the first of the season to help secure the lush green landscape that makes late fall through winter and early spring an especially beautiful time of year here.
November 24th’s morning temperature was a nippy 37 degrees. Not quite what we’re used to as everyday weather in MoCo! We’re softies, no doubt about it. If you don’t think so, check the Copenhagen Cycle Chic site photos of their cyclists in December.
Rain or cold temps signal different things to cyclists, depending on whether you love donning rain gear and splashing through puddles on your bike, are inclined to use back-up transportation that can carry your bike on a cold or rainy day, or prefer to just kick back and only think about biking in such weather. Whatever your pleasure, consider some possibilities….
Watch for rainbows
(Photo courtesy of Jan Valencia, , Velo Club Monterey’s Answer Man.)
For those who want to bike in any weather
Even on the coast, where snow isn’t an issue, seasonal changes in the Monterey Bay area bring rain and colder temperatures. Check out those “Seasonal Tips for Cycling” written by our Monterey Bay neighbors, Piet Canin of Ecology Action of Santa Cruz and Theresia Rogerson, Santa Cruz County Health Agency staff representative to the Community Traffic Safety Coalition.
Please remember that rainy days and nights make it harder for drivers to see. That means it’s an especially good time for cyclists to use high-visibility apparel and/or accessories.
And it’s always a good time to stay alert! “Same roads, same rules, same rights” applies to distractions–like cell phones and texting. Click here for details, for adults and minors who bike or drive.
For more tips on biking in the rain, see the League of American Bicyclists website.
Need rain or cold-weather gear? Want to put some fenders on that bike during the rainy season? Visit the Monterey County bicycle shops.
Mo Co’s bike shops are also excellent sources for bike safety gear and accessories, such as bike lights, which are especially needed during the shorter-daylight winter season. For tips on year-round bike safety, see “Personal Safety” section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County.
Recommendations from local bike coach
Rain jackets: Chris Burnham is owner of Burnham Coaching, an endurance sports performance coaching service based in the Monterey area. Chris is a certified Level I USA Cycling coach, and you can bet this is a guy who’s unlikely to let rain or cold weather stop him from biking. Check out his recommendations for the best rain jacket for cycling here (see last item on his shopping tips list): Happy T-Day and Holiday Shopping.
Chris also has an easy and nourishing cold-weather bikers-breakfast recipe: baked oatmeal!
Low-cost ways to stay warm and dry
See “Winter Riding: Staying warm and dry on a budget,” by BikePortland.org columnist Ellie Blue, to inspire some thrifty solutions. Here in Monterey County, visit our MoCo Goodwill stores or other thrift stores.
Biking with an umbrella in Monterey County would make you exceptional–perhaps a trend-setter–though you’d be one of many such cyclists in Holland. Scroll down this post from Amsterdam, “Rain on Our Parade,” to see many cyclists who use an umbrella as one of their bike accessories. They make it seem that a small umbrella tucked in the pack might be a worthwhile idea.
After seeing those Dutch cyclists, I was curious what it would be like to swap out my raincoat for an umbrella in the next MoCo rain. So I tried it on Nov 27. Verdict? Definitely not easy if there is any significant wind, nor when you need to do any hand signaling! I think the umbrella would only be helpful to whip out when you stop and linger to chat with friends–or like those Dutch cyclists, to watch a rainy day parade!
The one plus about biking with my umbrella? I left the subdued black umbrella at home and brought my bright rainbow-colored one (pictured below at bike rental spot Adventures by the Sea just off Custom House Plaza). Definitely added to being highly visible when sharing a road with cars!
Think it’s cold here?
For those who want to make it a bike-and-ride outing
Maybe you’ve noticed–though not yet used–those bicycle racks on the Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) buses. Or perhaps you’ve wondered if there is any train service that will bring you and your bike into MoCo on the rails. There’s info for you on those and other options in the bike-and-ride section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County.
The MST options even include the San Jose Express, with bike racks underneath those shiny new buses! Who says they know the way to San Jose from Monterey, and it’s only via car? Not so! Please make use of any available mass transit whenever possible for those trips when you won’t be biking the entire way.
For those who just want to snuggle in and think about biking
[ 12/15/11 update: Consider Steve Bene's vision for providing bicycles for people in Monterey County who can't afford them, and for providing some bike maintenance instruction and assistance too. Don't think there's a need? See Season of Giving, Salinas Youth and Others for Bikes, or Eco-Wisdom of a Bike-Friendly Faith Community on this site. Then visit Steve's website, Gears4Good.org, and let your own wheels start turning about how you can help. ]
Watch People for Bike’s 1-minute If I Ride video.
Read all 20 sections of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide. And while the pages of the guide differ from posts, in that comments can’t be added to the pages, you may add your comments about the guide here.
Off-the-bike activities for bicycle enthusiasts
Maybe you’re inclined to hang it up on a cold or rainy day. You can still express your passion for biking.
Investigate ways to get more involved in the MoCo bike community
Consider being a part of the Bicycling Monterey advocacy efforts. See the Acknowledgments and Opportunities page. Review the Posters, Web Links, and Other Project Resources page and share those resources with others.
Visit the websites–or physical locations–of various Monterey County bike community leaders. Start with the Bicycle Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources page. There are group rides, parties and other social get-togethers, opportunities to do trail work, serve on infrastructure or other planning committees, or do other volunteering, and much more.
Think about your favorite lodging, educational, entertainment, or dining spots, or wineries, and consider inviting them to join the HER Helmet Thursdays project. See “How to participate–for cyclists,” and “How to participate–for businesses and organizations.”
Plan a Thursday ride…
Check out the HER Helmet Thursdays listings. Not just the brief listings, but the detailed listings with bike-there tips and venue descriptions for most participants. For more info about the project, see Goals and Overview.
Make special plans…
Live outside MoCo? Those lodging discounts are for you, too! Another option is camping in Monterey County. At this time of year, you have a far better chance of securing the most desirable campsites. And while winter can sometimes mean rain, winter does not mean snow camping here!
April is a very special time for cyclists in Monterey County, because about 50,000 cycling fans come to town! Why? For the Sea Otter Classic, which will be April 14-17 in 2011. Consider registering as an amateur or pro racer, or as a rider in the Gran Fondo recreational rides. Or just look over the Sea Otter website to see the many activities they have, even for non-racers: activities for kids (see their Festival Guide), the largest North American bike expo, and more. And Sea Otter is preceded by the Bicycle Leadership Conference, April 12-14, 2011.
Be a contributor to the content on this site
Suggest a guest post you’d like to write or photos you’d like to contribute. Submit a press release or news of a local bike-related event. Share a tip about a news story, feature, or photo that appeared in other media about biking in Monterey County. For all of these, click here.
Be a community reviewer and alert me about broken links, typos, and other needs for edits.
Whatever you do, enjoy the weather
As my parents used to say if we’d whine about rain, “It makes the flowers grow.” And here in Monterey County, it makes these Salinas Valley strawberry fields grow, too.
Portions of this post first published in December 2010.