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Rain, Cold Temps, and More: Biking through the Seasons

Hey, there’s a drought here. We’re thankful to get rain anytime.

If you’re here, you know about “Monterey County braces for strongest storm in 7 years.” Exciting–and dangerous–high surf happens as well. Take seriously the cautions and advisories offered by local weather services, emergency services, and other local officials. In addition to the info below, other helpful links are provided by Kera Abraham in her report,  “Storm knocks out power, closes roads across county. As reported by CalFire-Pebble Beach, for safety concerns, the gates into Pebble Beach may be closed to all but essential traffic; that is exactly what happened on 12/11/14.

When storms are happening, besides the resources already provided below, you may wish to check the Twitter streams of the following. (A Twitter account is not required to read their streams.)  , ,  , , @cityofsalinas, @cityofmonterey, @pomgarrison.

rainy day at mry library

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.”

Specific to mountain biking, kindly note:
  • Be kind to the land. Ride dirt, not mud. Stay off trails until they’ve had a chance to dry up a bit.
  • Contact leadership of Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCAmtb.org) for specific local guidelines about rainy season riding. Read “Why we don’t night ride after rain” too.
  • Fort Ord National Monument, Fort Ord Public Lands, and the Monterey Peninsula include beautiful trails where mountain biking is allowed. Ride only on designated, marked trails. To preserve these trails for future users, please do not use trails when they are wet or muddy. In addition, do not ride or brake on open terrain, and do not cut across switchbacks. Questions? Contact BLM at (831) 394-8314.
  • Rules for Rainy Season Riding (responsible mountain biking) from our Monterey Bay neighbors at Hilltromper Santa Cruz
Urban riders in the rain….

See Juan Villa’s photo gallery in the Californian of Ciclovía Salinas attendees who didn’t let rain stop them: http://www.thecalifornian.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2014/11/01/photo-gallery-ciclovia-salinas-2014/18334821/#

Rain, Cold Temps, and More:

Biking through the Seasons

The info below was first published in 2010, with some subsequent updates.

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….

* * * * *

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, below are tips here for you. 

First one? A mask! Ask Tom….

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 saw him biking Oldtown that night.
Cold snap in Salinas 8 Dec 2013 - Tom

 The info below was previously published in December 2010.

* * * * *

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.

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.

Umbrella?

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!

(Photo courtesy of Evan of Adventures by the Sea.)

Think it’s cold here?

Check out these cold-weather bikers from BikePortlandorg.

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.

Check the posts in the Local Bike News and Appearances category.  If you are a college student in MoCo, look here, too.

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 in MoCo?  Plan a staycation, and this year, consider taking advantage of the early lodging leaders in HER Helmet Thursdays.  See how easy it is to get a lodging discount, then book a reservation.

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.

Post a comment.

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.

(Photo courtesy of Jan Valencia.  Taken on Jan’s morning commute from Seaside to Salinas.)

 

Portions of this post first published in December 2010.


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