Sunday, October 07, 2007

That other half of the cycling year

As temperatures drop toward the hypothermic here in Portland (if one's trapped outdoors in an ice-filled cooler), and the sky verily gushes with water (for about half an hour once a week), the wise Stumptown cycler calls it a season (or starts racing cyclocross). Yesterday, as I roll toward Forest Park on a blustery fall day, I catch up with another fellow out for a spin.

"Turned into a nice day for a ride, huh?" I offer.

"Yep, we may sneak in a couple more rides yet," he (fenderless) says.

"This is just my second fall--does seem like it's coming quicker."

Noticing my (fendered, lit, be-bagged) bike he adds, "Well, it looks like you've adapted pretty well. That's a nice bike!"

I thanked him, told him where I was headed, explained that the road bike handles Leif Erikson (the unpaved main road through Forest Park) fine, and we parted ways. I can understand a drop off in riding during the bleakest months, but it sure seems like Portlanders duck and cover a little early in the shoulder seasons.

Portland's Office of Transportation does neat bike counts every year. This year, they counted twice for two of the bridges, in March and August. I haven't seen any mention outside the report itself that March rates of Hawthorne and Broadway bridge bike crossings were HALF of August rates.

Some portion of those "missing" bike trips were probably recreational. Still, the seasonal dip detracts a little from the argument that bike facilities can replace a sizable chunk of auto capacity. It would be neat to track what happens to those missing trips. What portion are simply not taken, and what portions switch to transit and auto?

It also seems like a great target for some informational campaigns around clothing, lights, and fenders. Something along the lines of Kent Peterson's talks. Or, maybe an off-season gear show to let local shops/craftsfolk show off what they've got for those other seasons?

Then again, maybe other people just have more diverse hobbies. My highest mileage month this year? January.
There are times when a stiff pair of boots might be better.


Anonymous MichaelR said...

As the weather darkens and dampens my ride rate is climbing. I've a good winter ride clothing selection. An October or November ride is more comfortable than July or August rides.

Which brings us to the winter riding mantra: There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always suprised by the serious riders that stop riding at the end of September. This is the best time of the year for riding.


10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a great winter cycling web site for all kinds of winter weather. The site has many different sections including clothing, techniques. As for the idea of doing winter cycling seminars, the MEC here in association with our local cycling advocay group puts on one or two a year. I find the most important part is to keep the chain lubed.


9:33 AM  

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