Monday, November 14, 2005

Oklahoma weather...

Thomas said:

Geez, you make me feel like a real wuss! I was just complaining this a.m. that it was foggy and 56-ish with some light mist on my morning commute. You northeast riders are tough. ZERO F? I am inspired.

What makes me crazy here in Oklahoma is the constantly changing weather. Honestly, we had record highs last week at almost 90F! A few days before that, it was just above freezing. My body has a hard time acclimating.

Once, I told my mother-in-law that I'd been out for a ride wearing shorts in January. She's still in Pennsylvania. "Oh, you could do that up here!" she said.

"Right!" I replied,"And they'll find my body when the snow melts!"

When I lived in NW Pennsylvania, the temperature would often drop below freezing at Christmas and stay there for weeks at a time. I adapted to that, and frankly, it was much nicer than the 'pig weather' of late autumn or early spring. November could be cold and wet, and when it hovered just above freezing, the chill reached to the bone! Colder temperatures were more comfortable because the air was dry.

It seems strange, but the best days I spent outdoors in the winter were on cross country skis or my ratty track bike. A calm, sunny day on hard packed snow with the temperature in the 20s is something every cyclist should experience. The air is crisp and clean. There's so little humidity that distant objects are clearly visible. The sound of a dog barking carries a long way, and the smell of wood smoke even farther.

I don't miss the pig weather, though that's what a normal Oklahoma winter is like. We don't get much snow here, but we do get ice storms and I will not ride in those conditions. I'm not afraid of falling or slithering around. I'm afraid of the Oklahoma drivers who go into a complete panic at the sight of snow or ice. Body shops and tow trucks do a brisk business when it gets nasty. Fender benders are so common, the police won't come to investigate one unless it involves a drunk driver or a city vehicle. The drivers are supposed to go to any local convenience store, fill out an accident report, and mail it in. If they need a ticket, the city will mail it to them. I am not making this up!

I learned to drive in snow and ice. To many who drive in such conditions up north, the behavior of Oklahoma motorists in a snow storm is mostly comical. People drive as if the laws of physics do not apply in their special case. As a result, every intersection has a wreck. Every ditch has a car or two at the bottom. Even straight stretches of road have cars off in the ditch as drivers either lose control crossing an iced-over bridge, or they have to swerve to avoid someone who's just turned a car into a hockey puck.

Would you want to ride a bicycle in those conditions?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still a little crazed. I took my pseudo-cyclocross bike out one afternoon as the rain was turning to snow. I rode out east to a park with some paved trail and a lot of mud. The streets were just starting to get slushy as I came home. I was wet and filthy. Mud stuck in clumps to my legs and back. The bike was an unrecognizable mess. But I had a very good time. Motorists stayed well away, giving me ample space on the road. They knew a maniac when they saw one!


Blogger Fritz said...

I had 30 mph head winds gusting to nearly 50 on my commute home this evening. Tomorrow is leaf collection day so I got to dodge big lawn bags that were flying down the streets. Oh, and it was snowing also.

8:55 PM  

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