Take Weather Forecasts with a Grain of Salt

If you are a cyclist, like myself, you normally keep an eye on weather forecasts, so you’ll know how to dress, and what to expect on your ride.  This weekend, we were going to have an epic ride in the East Bay which started at 8 am.  However, as I was getting prepared for that ride, I saw that the ground was wet.  As I stepped outside, it was actually raining.  The ground was wet as can be, so after tweeting a few other of my buddies local to me, none of them really wanted to go climbing Sierra on wet roads.  So we decided to wait till later.  I looked at the weather forecasts, and one of them, weatherunderground, was reporting light rain and drizzle … no duh … I could see that!  However, weather.com and accuweather.com, made no mention … no mention at all about rain, or wet roads … not even mentioning drizzle.

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Looking at weatherunderground, it mentions it will be clearing by 10 am.  Ok, fine, we’ll start our ride up Page Mill, then down to San Gregorio, then finish coming up Tunitas Creek.  Nice plan, right?  Marco and Ruth would be heading out and meet us somewhere in San Gregorio, so that would be perfect.

We went up Altamont (kinda eerie for me, because that’s the same road where I went down, although it was in the opposite direction).  So far, no issues … pretty dry.  Left turn up Page Mill, and on we go.  About half way up, we could see the fog shrouding the hillside, so one of my fears was how foggy it would get to the top.  So far, temperature-wise, I was okay.  There was a mist around us, and I could tell I’m getting a little damp from the dew of the fog, but I was still fairly warm.

Marco and Ruth called, and they were bailing on the ride.  It was raining too much on their side, so we’ll see how the rest of the ride goes for us.

After we got past gate 4, things started to turn on us.  The fog got heavier and heavier, and glasses really started to fog up, to the point where it was really difficult to see out of them.  I kept mine on, as there was still some parts of my glasses where there was a clear vision.  The fog turned to a heavy mist, which then turned to a constant drizzle.  Near the top, I could definitely tell it was getting colder, but at least we were still climbing.  That would at least keep our body temperature up a little bit.  The drizzle now was actually turning into rain, and we were really wet.  Finally reaching the top, and we could not see a thing.  We saw a few riders coming southbound from Skyline, saying that the visibility was almost nil, that you could hardly see anything.  That was enough for us to not continue on our original plan.

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We were originally going to go down to the coast, but with this fog and low visibility, we thought better of it.  First, we had to descend quite a bit, and that’s not good news with low visibility.  Second, we were all getting cold, and cold just does not do well for cycling, especially with a long ride that we had planned.  So the plan was to bail on the original ride, and just head back down.

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Going down, I was going to take my time.  I do not want to suffer the same fate from a year ago, where I went down on Altamont on slick roads that were even dryer than this.  Still, even at the slower than normal descending pace, my toes and fingers were getting really cold.  Water was seeping into my shoes, which just exacerbated the situation with my freezing extremities in my toes.  I took it really easy around the switchbacks, with no aggressive turns on the descent.  In fact, I was going so slow that Chris caught up to me, who is generally slower on the descent.  In fact, as he was passing me, he asked if I was okay.  I was thinking “yeah, not sure why you are asking” … Chris then mentions he didn’t think he would pass anyone at all.  I told him I would be going slow!

By the time we got to the lower section of Page Mill, the rain stopped, and there was even some sunshine.  My toes were still freezing, and the sunshine was just not strong enough to thaw out my toes.  Talk about Bay Area micro-climates!

As I looked towards the east, I could clearly see blue skies, and a few clouds, but definite signs that it was probably a bit warmer there.

On the climb up Page Mill, we all pretty much stuck together.  This is strange, as normally I would be caught alone on the climb … could it be I am getting that much better, or that the cold and damp is just sapping everyone to an even keel?  Possibly the latter.

I later found out from Donald that the roads descending Sierra were also wet.  I guess this is just a matter of high altitude and fog conditions … oh well.

Total stats, based on Ascent … 37.2 miles, 3101 feet climbing.  Hey, at least we got 3000+ feet climbing in on this day.  That’s not too shabby.

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4 Responses to Take Weather Forecasts with a Grain of Salt

  1. GTinLA says:

    Dude – you are the better man than I am – I would have bailed out of this ride; the ‘fun’ factor is seriously missing here!

  2. Henry M says:

    It was definitely not raining in the East Bay. The roads were wet but that’s okay. We went Palomares, Dublin Grade, Foothill Blvd, Calaveras Rd, Milpitas, back to Fremont @ Niles.

  3. jobob says:

    It was drizzling some in Union City as far as Oakland yesterday morning, but north of that it was clear and sunny up around Pinole and Alhambra Valley near the Bears. Welcome to the Bay Area …

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