April 30, 2012 at 4:31am
Those not born or raised in the area may wonder if Northwesterners have lost their minds.
"Cycling in this weather?" they may think.
And the answer is "Yes."
Diehard cycling fans will get out and ride in almost any weather. Mother Nature can't be controlled, but a few adjustments on the human end can make riding in the Northwest possible and enjoyable even if you get wet.
Being prepared for suddenly changing, inclement weather even when the day looks dry is the way for two-wheel success. A sunny morning can become a soggy afternoon quickly. First, get a good helmet and shoes that work for you - not equipment that slows you down. Old Town Bicycle in Tacoma and Olympia is a good bet for all your equipment needs.
Second, the acquisition of waterproof, ultra lightweight clothing is a necessity. Outdoors outfitters Wholesale Sports in Lacey and REI have outdoor fun all wrapped up. Get the gear you'll need, then love, then not be able to live without. When you find yourself wearing your new waterproof gears as your "everyday jacket" you'll know the Northwest assimilation is complete. Bonus: many hoods have stiff built-in brims so water drips away from your face.
On a serious note, it's essential to make yourself highly visible to cars by decking yourself with reflectors. Think you have enough? Go ahead and add a couple more. Once it starts to rain it's even tougher for drivers to see bicyclists.
And on the technical end, make sure your bike is in top shape; make a stop at one of four Bike Tech locations- Tacoma, Lakewood, Olympia, Puyallup. All locations offer free bike care clinics every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Riding with friends and fellow bike enthusiasts can make a drenching downpour something to chuckle about (later, after you've warmed). Bike Tech offers free group rides throughout the week; details can be found at www.biketech.com.
And if you're looking for companionship, cycling groups, like the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club and Capitol Bicycle Club in Olympia, offer organized and rated-for-difficulty rides, a sense of community, cycling advocacy and volunteerism.
Once you've got the basics handled, make a trip out of it. Cycling around the same area can get boring. Drive north and take a ferry to Lopez Island. The easy-to-medium hills and loop rides are suitable for beginners and even medium-age children. Terra Trek and Multi Sport Vacations offer guided bike tours and overnight stays.
Start planning your cycling getaway now. Believe it or not, sun-breaks are right around the corner.
Off duty rules.
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