Tuesday, September 2

Belts and Suspenders, So to Speak

The Ocean Shores Ace Hardware has LOTS of Belts AND Suspenders!
This post was INSPIRED by the notion of belts and suspenders, shown above by the “belt and suspender” department of the Ocean Shores Ace Hardware store. The implementation was mine alone.

Over time, I’ve concluded that the most effective and serious cycling raingear today is made by the “Showers Pass” company. That title was formerly held by Burley, and companies such as REI would like to assume that title, but Showers Pass (of Oregon) is IT at the moment. I’ve accumulated a fair amount of their items. For me the weak points of cycling rain protection are head and hand dryness. THIS post addresses head dryness.

Rain Hat, Designed to Work With Showers Pass Rain Jacket - No Helmet Needed or Intended
Showers Pass has two approaches to head dryness. The first is a hat that velcros on to some of their raincoats, as shown in the photo above. It works well, except that you wind up with the choice of one of two fatal flaws. In the first way to use this first hat, you cinch down the elastic to hold the hat securely on your head. In THAT case, the edge gradually creeps below your eyebrows and you lose the ability to see the whole picture up ahead. BAD - while I'm not in fear of cars killing me, who knows what a frightened deer up ahead might do? In the second way you use this first hat, you abandon the elastic. In that case, the hat drips all over and blows off before too long. ALSO BAD. If Showers Pass added a second elastic strap that would pull the hat UP when the main elastic is cinched down, this problem would be dramatically lessened, but neither they, nor anybody, else has come up with that idea yet.

Showers Pass Helmet Cover Rain Protection
Fortunately, Showers Pass also has a rain hat that is designed to cover the typical CPSC helmet available today. I used it in preference to the first hat when I was commuting to work in DFW. It works OK, except that stuff leaks through on to your head. It also only works WITH a helmet. FWIW, that strap at the back is apparently intended to hold a light. Odd to have a light holder in combination with a BLACK helmet cover. Said by someone who just bought the stuff to stay dry and has few dogs in the "style versus visibility" contest.

For "Best" Protection, Use BOTH Hats at the Same Time!
Inspired by the Ace hardware “belt and suspenders” Department, I tried using BOTH Showers Pass hats at the same time. With a helmet/hat on, the elastic was not needed on the first hat, and my head arrived back at home perfectly dry. Rain, however, never sleeps. As shown below, it got my “IGA Pink Espresso Card” wet while I waited, and THAT wet card stained my “high vis” rain jacket pocket. My saddle also got wet while I waited behind the motorists, but a rain cape recently mentioned by Chandra, could probably help that problem. Improvements continue…

Head May be Dry, but Wetness Seeps Through! Perhaps adding a Rain Cape?

Sunday, August 31

Butts on Bikes

More Butt on the Saddle While in Line for Coffee Would Have Avoided a Wet Rear End!
Perhaps things have a way of evening out. It was just a couple of days ago that I opined on “Citizen Rider” that “butts on bikes” types are rarely cyclists. Yesterday, I realized that perhaps we DO need more “butts on bikes.” At least we need more “butts on saddles” for those cyclists waiting in a line of motorists to get their daily coffee on Labor Day weekend, in the rain, in the Ocean Shores tourist trap. That saddle got real wet during the time I got off the saddle while stopped. Perhaps a rain cape would have avoided the wetness due to time the butt was OFF the saddle.

In addition to more “butts on bikes,” I realized that the flimsy plastic bags grocery stores offer should not be sneered at when you are getting pasta to bring home when the backpack isn’t totally waterproof. What’s more, I developed more appreciation for the benefits of combining “belts and suspenders” in the rain for head protection. More on that later.

Finishing, Richard of “Suburban Assault” opined that it rains harder in North Texas thanin the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps he merely remembers all the LIGHT rain in the Northwest and not the occasional HARD rain. I can testify that it DOES rain hard in the Northwest and not just in North Texas. It just also rains lightly a LOT more so memory might not be totally accurate for someone getting soaked in Texas.

Wednesday, August 27

Slower and Faster Sights

Seagulls Trust People Walking a Lot More Than Those Cycling
I’ve often heard people, when writing about their cycling, exclaim over the things they experience that you simply miss when motoring about. That’s true, though I hear far less talk about the things you miss when you are either going slower (as in walking) or faster (yes, as in motoring about). 
Somehow, I'd Have Missed this Mushroom on a Bike
Back in Ocean Shores, I find myself going for walks much more frequently than I used to do in North Texas. In North Texas, when it is hot, cycling represents a good balance between cooling air and effort that you simply do not get when walking except in the early morning or in the evening. That is not the case in Ocean Shores where a “hot” day has a high temperature of around 70F in the dog days of August. When walking, you see a lot more flora and fauna about. Seagulls, for example, tend to take flight as a bicycle comes near. Similarly, you simply don’t go where mushrooms abound and don’t often notice them when you do. My OS house may have one of the lowest walkability scores I've ever seen, but walking is VERY enjoyable around here. By contrast, the particular locale in the photo below has a "practically perfect" walkability score." Go figure.

This Will NEVER be "Bike Friendly!"
On the other hand, some experiences are pretty much out of reach for those not motoring. “26 miles of driving beach” that is accessible from Long Beach, Washington, is one of those. For those not from Washington, beaches there are considered State Highways and driving them is a common activity. Who says that recreational travel is limited to cyclists? A 26-mile beach is a LONG way to attempt to travel by either bike or by foot. And, of course, motoring about can include watercraft. On such, you see an entirely different view than you would when travelling by ANY sort of shore-based mode.
I'm Not Sure I'd Consider Tubing a Form of Transport
I Also Don't Think the OSRR Had Transport in Mind...

Wednesday, August 20

Caw Caw

Crow in Ocean Shores
Washington State truly IS different than North Texas. You see, North Texas has few crows. Instead, it has grackles. Grackles look vaguely like crows (they are NOT closely related), except they congregate in larger numbers and have longer tail feathers. Both are black. Washington has, on the other hand, LOTS of crows and no grackles at all as far as I know.

Crow PAIR in Ocean Shores
Crow Surveys its Domain

Lately, I’ve been noticing crows and grackles a lot more than formerly. The notice occurs partly because I’ve seen some good books and a DVD on crows. The first book I was exposed to was “Crow Planet.” It’s a good overview on crows and how they interact with humans. Perhaps even better for a “first exposure” to crow society is the DVD “A Murder of Crows.”
For those that already have gotten past initial crow interest, two other books are “Gifts of the Crow” and “In the Company of Crows and Ravens.”
Perhaps significantly, the Colleyville TX library has no books on crows. The smaller Ocean Shores WA library has two books on crows AND the DVD. Personally, I like crows a LOT better than grackles. They simply seem a lot more personable. YOUR mileage may vary.

FYI, the Amazon links are purely for convenience. Amazon doesn’t pay me to hype their site and I didn’t go to same for any of the four references.

Did Crows Snatch this Mailbox's Eye?

Monday, August 18

Two Steps Forward and One Back

Toto, I Think We're in Kansas! Jaguar en Route from Texas
It seems things go “two steps forward and one step back.” Such has been the case in Ocean Shores lately. We recently drove up from Texas with one of the Jaguars in tow. Step forward.
I’ve also been riding more each week than I was able to do in the previous five months. It doesn’t even hurt very much. Second step forward.
Coming Home. The Jaguar Offloads from the Trailer
A new restaurant opened up this week in a location formerly occupied by an EXCELLENT taco stand. They went to the trouble of taking OUT a bike rack that didn’t impinge on motorist parking at all. Luckily, I'm not sure I would have been likely to become a patron even had they left the bike rack unmolested. Stay tuned for a future inquiry. What’s more, the Ocean Shores Farmer Market has been relocated from its attractive location at the library to the far end of a giant gravel parking lot. Apparently the motoring public wasn’t happy with the amount of parking. Myself, my enthusiasm for the local farmer market is lessened when I have to ride past the local IGA and across a giant gravel parking lot to pay quite a bit more for produce than I did last year. One step back…

Despite the Loss of a Bike Rack, Many People Cycled to the Ocean Shores "Woofathon" Last Weekend