Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Defense of Bad Weather

All week long people have been apologising for the weather. It's been raining severely for at least a portion of every day that I've been here. But the thing is, I really don't mind. And it is certainly not ruining my stay here.

Consider, for instance, that some of the most dramatic scenery emerges in bad weather. The gathering of storm clouds. The mist rising over the glens. The waves crashing onto rocky shores. Tall grass windswept. These things cannot be captured - or seen, for that matter - without this so-called "bad" weather. In the rain, colours look brighter, more saturated. The smell of flowers grows more intense, Textures come out that are not otherwise visible.

In bad weather, you get to know a place better. Any spot can look charming in the sunshine and under blue skies. But how will it look in the rain and under the shadow of storm clouds? Some places are rather depressing as soon as the weather turns bad; others are breathtakingly romantic.

They say rain is good for your complexion, that it makes your skin radiant and restores elasticity. Just think: Every time you are out in the rain, you are really getting a beauty treatment.

In the rain the country roads are mostly empty - ideal for cycling in peace and tranquility while enjoying views unobscured by cars and tourists.

It's a  cliché to say there is no such thing as bad weather, and I don't really believe that anyway. There are tornados, hurricanes, lightning storms, blizzards. But some heavy rain? I get my camera, check my brakes, wear waterproof clothing, turn my lights on, protect my equipment inside a bicycle bag, and enjoy the ride. No need to apologise, Ireland - the weather is lovely!

33 comments:

  1. very well put. I want to go to Ireland now!!!

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  2. Hello Velouria,

    I don't actually mind cycling in the rain ...if it gets bad and there is no shelter to be found, I'll just dig in and think of having a steaming mug of coffee at home! Give me rain any day instead of head winds.

    Last week while out for a longer ride, there was a brief but heavy amount of rain - I just took shelter under a large tree and watched the world go by for a while.

    As long as my hands and feet are warm and (relatively) dry, I'm fine - really good cycling gloves, a waterproof jacket and overshoes are a wise investment. I wouldn't relish the prospect of having to take gloves off to fix a puncture though!

    The one thing that cracks me up are people who don't dress appropriately for the weather - such as wearing shorts on the morning commute, when it is pouring down and the temperatures are low.

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    1. "Give me rain any day instead of head winds. "

      Oh, did I not mention there are both? : )

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    2. Yeah ... you can get plenty of that in Antrim, with the added bonus of a few tough climbs. A couple of years ago I fell off going up Glenariff, cracking a few ribs in the process. My own inexperience was to blame. Cycling back home in the gale was tough ... I was cold, soaked to the bone and tired. Despite all that, I just put it all behind me. Some days are just meant to be better than others. Hence why I go better prepared round those parts.

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    3. What do you mean you fell off?... Because of the wind?

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    4. This is the REALLY embarassing bit ... I was completely new to riding in groups and caught the wheel of somebody in front. It was my second day out with the club I had just joined.

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    5. Oh I am sorry to hear that. I thought you meant the headwind knocked you over.

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  3. You sound so optimistic, Velouria - you must be enjoying Ireland! I too enjoy rainy days, and even sometimes enjoy cycling in the rain.

    Can't wait to hear more about your trip (and Brompton!!! :-) )

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  4. Italians say that rain falling on your head refreshes your memory. I have always found that idea to be quite charming.

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  5. I grew up and lived most of my life in Seattle, Wa and now live in Olympia Wa. It is more cloudy and rainy where I'm at now, but it also gets colder and warmer here. When I was in Seattle, I rode with a friend who grew up riding in Hawaii. He loved the rain and occasional snow in Seattle. I rode on Maui, Hawaii in the warm rain and it reminded me of Seattle.
    Rain is fine, but not for day after day with gray gloom. I'm sure all but the toughest old Irish agree.
    I'm glad you're enjoying the visit.

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    1. I was in Seattle in the winter for a week working. At the end of the week one of my colleagues suggested a kayak trip. I said yes, depending on the weather. She said we'd go whether it was raining or not. We went and it rained and after she invited me to her house to shower and dry under their new heat lamp (you know those things you sometimes see in hotel bathrooms). I was cold, through and through. They even admitted that the rawness got to them. We did see a lot of sea lions playing and not much boat traffic.

      I only have ridden regularly in the rain on tours and I agree with you that, riding or not, some of the best scenery is weather induced.

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  6. I especially enjoy rides along the seacoast or in the countryside when it's raining. When I've toured on my bike, passing through a shower makes the scenery and the sun breaking through all the more poignant. And, oh, yeah, sometimes you get to see a rainbow.

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    1. I could nit bust out my real camera fast enough, but here is an iphone rainbow. This is in Cushendun.

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  7. Well, what a different ( for me), useful viewpoint on inclement weather and cycling therein. Thank you for that perspective. In the mid-90's I spent 13 days cycling in the Republic of Ireland and I experienced a slight shower once! Yes, the change in weather coming off the Atlantic and crossing those green mountains is dramatic. I enjoy reading your post from Ireland.

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  8. We get a little rain here almost every day. Helps to keep the dust down & the amateurs indoors. :-)

    For me, trying to stay dry is a folly -- best to dive right in and get wet right away, because you will be there eventually anyway. And if you wear something to keep the rain off you, then you will just stew in your own juices.

    Makes for lots of laundry, but that's life.

    You know you're in Yorkshire when almost all bikes have fenders and a nice coating of road grime.

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    1. I regret never having visited Yorkshire when I lived in England; by all accounts I would love it.

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    2. It's true that you should visit Yorkshire--aside from being among the most beautiful places in the UK, it's also the UK's Amsterdam in terms of bicycling

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    3. Robert Linthicum: cycling capes? I think this is a British invention, no? I've used several types and they work very well from neck to knees. Not that we get a lot of rain in NM, but I've survived a howling gale and SW downpour with a $30 Campmor cape (my favorite all things being considered, having tried Carradice and others).

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  9. Thanks for the positive Irish weather vibes! Glad to read it as we live in West Cork and the Pashley is my transport come rain or shine!
    In fact, rain is rather nice, very refreshing...

    How long are you here? If you're around in 3weeks please come down to our bicycle festival in Clonakilty...its our first year! we love your blog and would love to have you here! Let us know, we'll put you up no bother...
    www.clonakiltybicyclefestival.org

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    1. Thanks Justin, I will have a look at your blog. Is Cork flat enough to be "Pashley territory" then? I cannot imagine riding one here.

      I am learning about bicycle festivals taking place all over Ireland this time of the year, it's great! Unfortunately I will not be here long enough.

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  10. I live in Co Cavan and use a bicycle for commuting and running errands every day and for touring Ireland in the summer. For rain gear I use a plastic cape and wellies. Keeps me bone dry in everything but the hardest wind driven rain, apart from on my shoulders where the cape rests which gets a bit sweaty.

    The only problem with a cape is that ii's not very aerodynamic at the best of times but in strong headwinds it is a serious drag. In a tail wind however it acts like a sail. But I am a slow cyclist generally cruising at about 10 mph. If you want to move fast forget a cape.

    Down the years I have tried various kinds of breathable rain gear but found nothing to beat a cape and wellies for keeping me dry. Nothing like cycling for several hours in the rain and still being bone dry.

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    1. Though I love the look and the idea of them, in practice I am just not a fan of capes and wellies. The capes flutter too much and I do not find them practical off the bike. The wellies are not breathable at all and my feet hate them. I prefer a breathable raincoat with good coverage and "normal" waterproof shoes/boots such as what Canadienne produces. But to each their own. I love seeing cyclists riding in capes!

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  11. I know you've answered questions about clothing before, but I'd love a full write up about what you wore on this trip. Dressing for the rain might be second nature to those living in the UK and Ireland, but some of us would appreciate being educated.

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    1. I'll try to put up a post describing what I packed/wore on the trip. But the thing is, what works for me might not work for others. See the comment & reply above for instance.

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  12. ...Just think: Every time you are out in the rain, you are really getting a beauty treatment...

    As a 62yo man of the grouchy bearded variety, I had to chuckle at this.Thanks for the refreshing point of view!

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  13. Recently I was telling my neighbor about a camping trip we had planned with my son's Boy Scout troop. The forecast was for rain and her comment was, "Won't you get rained out?" My reply: "No, we just get rained on." If you're prepared for it and embrace it you really can enjoy it. That said, I think day after day of rain can get tiresome.

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  14. I like the rain too... but sometimes here in Seattle it's too much of a good thing.

    I notice in the photo for this blog post the bicycles have no fenders.
    I guess they don't ride much in the rain then... or else they are comfortable going out in public with that distinctive wet patch on their backsides after a good ride in the rain!

    LOL!

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  15. Plus overcast/rainy weather acts like an enormous softbox, reducing contrast and making it much easier to shoot memorable images.

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  16. I like riding in the rain, too. What I don't like is having to clean the bike of muck and grit when I get home. I have proper fenders now; that oughta help. (I live in an apartment with no access to a hose or a garage. All I have is my bathtub and a sink.) On the other hand, maybe I'm a little paranoid; maybe I don't have to clean everything after just one wet ride.)

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  17. This is what I love about the Oregon coast, as well. It's rocky and somewhat mountainous, and when it's stormy, windy, and the waves are high, it's very dramatic, with the wind-swept evergreen trees and the salty taste of the air. My favorite time of year to go is in the winter, honestly.

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