"You do know that it is the middle of winter,right?"
“You do know that it is the middle of winter, right?”
I received the above one-sentence email from my old friend Bernie a few days ago after he subscribed to 82rpm. I chuckled as I read it, so Bernie I thought, his brand of spot on wisdom eternally short and sweet. But as a child of the Midwest, I’ve always compared California winters to the raging blizzards of my youth, storms that elicited joyous school closings and numbed one’s speech after hours of snowball fights and shoveling driveways. To me the term ‘winter’ had always seemed awkward at best when paired with ‘California’. And besides, everything I’d read about tackling the Southern Tier bicycle route suggested starting in early March or early September to avoid the most oppressive temperatures, and our planned departure day of February 26th was only a few days from the beginning of March, so of course it would work out!
But then I read the weather forecast for Southern California included in the link below, which is actually a Surf Forecast first and foremost, but if you’re so inclined you can open the link (you might need to copy & paste) and scroll down to the “Weather Outlook” section to better understand the context of this post:
The author is Nathan Cool, a trained meteorologist (best name ever for a meteorologist!) and I’ve been following him for 20-plus years. His weather forecasts are always the most accurate I’ve found for Southern California, and he’s perpetually ahead of the weather curve. And after several years of extremely dry winters here in California, we’re finally, and oh so gratefully, experiencing a very wet winter with multiple storms that have lasted for days, easing the drought somewhat and reminding us that nothing ever lasts forever. And although riding in the rain is not the preferred experience for anyone who rides long distances on bicycles, it’s totally doable if one is prepared, and we are, but it’s not the rain that concerns us.
Within the first ten miles of our journey we will start climbing into the local mountains as we head east, and in fact this initial section is the second most difficult portion of the ride. It’s roughly 110 miles of climbing, then descending, then climbing, then descending, etc..., until we make the final descent into the Imperial Valley. It will take us two arduous days to complete this section, and if it was only rain we had to endure, as much as that would suck, we’d simply put our heads down and do it. But it’s not going to be just rain, it’s also going to be heavy snow and banshee winds with gusts strong enough to fracture both the body and the strongest of wills.
So we’ve pushed back our planned departure until March 4th or 5th. Odie will arrive on February 28th and The Bob will also adjust his arrival relative to this new timeline. We’ll spend a couple of days doing the final preparations, then wait with our fingers on the trigger for the first window of weather that offers us better than 50-50 odds of survival. If the weather doesn’t improve, our plan is to drive to Calexico, CA (approx. 130 miles from San Diego), and start the ride there with the caveat that we’d return to San Diego after reaching Saint Augustine and spend a couple of days completing the 130 miles that had been skipped at the start. We may be older and a bit slower, but we’re certainly not as dumb as we used to be back in the days when we thought immortality was our permanent lot in life, and so it goes....