I Demand a Refund

09.22.2006 | 4:13 pm

I’ve mentioned before: Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love when the weather cools off, so I can ride in the middle of the day without bursting into flames. I love being able to leverage the fitness I’ve earned during the season into fun, long rides in the mountains. I love the way the trees change color. I love the way most people don’t realize that this is the best year to ride a bike — whether mountain bike or road bike — and have left the roads and trails empty, so that those of us who know this secret have it all to ourselves.

In short, I love Autumn.

Except this year. This year (so far, at least), there has been no Autumn. We went straight from Summer into Winter.

(Not) A Nice Day for a Ride
Take last Saturday, for example. Excited by the thought of beautiful colors in the canyon and the dusting of snow I saw on the peaks of the nearby mountains, I put on a pair of tights, a long-sleeved jersey, wool socks, and windproof gloves, and headed out on my roadbike. I figured it would be a great day to ride the Alpine Loop, and maybe touch snow for the first time in the year.

Yeah, I touched snow all right. About 2/3 of the way up, it started raining and blowing. And then, as I hit 7000 feet (yes, exactly 7000 feet, according to my GPS’s altimeter; weird, huh?) the rain turned to snow. Within five minutes, the snow started sticking to the road. My mind’s eye quickly conjured what it would be like to descend this road with rock-hard road tires when the road was covered with a thin layer of wet slush.

I stopped, made a tiny snowball, ate it, and turned around. I felt cheated, not getting to ride to the summit.

Luckily, the snow stopped (turning back to rain) as I dropped below 7000 feet. Unluckily, the rain soon turned to hail.

You know what hurts? Getting pelted in the face by hail when you’re rolling along at 40mph.

I should point out: last Saturday, it was still technically Summer.

My Bikes are Warm and Dry
At least I got to ride my bike to work on Monday — it was cold, but it’s easy enough to dress against cold. And Tuesday, I got to go on a nice singlespeed mountain bike ride with Gary and Rick Sunderlage (not his real name).

Every other day, though, the weather’s been crummy. Cold, wet, dark. Blech.

In short, it’s Winter-like here. I haven’t been on a bike in three days, counting today. Oh, sure, I could get out and ride if I wanted to be hardcore about it, but the point of Autumn is that it’s the exact opposite of hardcore. I’m supposed to be having the fun, mellow, beautiful, mild, cool rides I’ve been dreaming about during the blast-furnace season we call Summer. Not this cold, wet, dark, snow, slush drizzle stuff where you can go out and ride if you’re in the mood to be punished or tell other people how "not that bad" it was afterward.

I am not ready for this.

Can you tell that I’m getting a little grouchy? Someone, please get Ma Nature on the horn and let her know that if this isn’t corrected soon, she’s going to hear from my people.

I’m getting grouchy. I want to go ride. No, strike that. I need to go ride.

PS: Dug Goes Sledding
At 8am this morning, I drove (grrrrr) to work, crossing over the Suncrest climb at about 8:10. It was just starting to snow.

Around 9am, Dug left his home at Suncrest to head to work. Here’s what he said happened:

We have several inches of snow here. As I descended the topmost hill at Suncrest, about a 15% grade, I slid downhill, off road, and drove down a drainage ditch for about 100 yards, trying to avoid the stalled cars coming up the hill. I had no control and bounced through the ditch like Bo and Luke Duke, knocking over about 4 reflector poles. I totally expected to roll, driving at 45 degree angle, in the ditch, bouncing off small trees, sewer grates, and big rocks. Finally, I got enough control to drive out of the ditch.

I decided to pack it in, and work from home. Welcome to Utah.


  1. Comment by sans auto | 09.22.2006 | 4:26 pm

      Today is the first day i got a ride to school/work.  Not because of the weather, but because I went golfing with a friend this morning (8:06 tee-time, but we got off at 7:50 because of a no-show). We were the only two on the course. I thought of riding 10 miles with the golf clubs, but decided against it, my wife gave me aride (we call her "avec auto").  We live in Spanish Fork and I agree, this weather is unacceptable.  At least when I lived in Oregon it was warm when it rained.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 4:48 pm

    I would like to leave some clever retort, but I don’t feel clever today.  Or any day, for that matter.  But less-so today than others.  It is winter here, too.  The hiberation munchies have hit. I watched football on TV last evening because it was too wet to ride.  I can feel the there’s-no-light-in-the-sky depression coming on way too early–three months or so for this place.  This can’t be permanent, can it?
    Ricky Maddox is well connected.  Do you think he could do anything about this?

  3. Comment by Random Reviewer | 09.22.2006 | 4:48 pm

    luckily, you’re about to discover your new favorite sport–backcountry skiing. we’ll have powder in october. you can thank me later.

  4. Comment by souiee_n_marc | 09.22.2006 | 5:41 pm

    hey, i live here in slc and true, the weather is yucky, but it doesn’t keep me off my bike…ride the fixie, albeit with maybe a smaller gear, put on a rain shell and get wet! you’ll be happy(er).

  5. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 09.22.2006 | 5:55 pm

    sans auto – good thing you went golfing before the blizzard started. you know what? i’ve never golfed in my life. is it fun?
    rocky – i think rick maddox could probably do something about it, but i can’t seem to get him to return my calls. something about being "too important" for me.
    dug – yes, i’m looking forward to that. you haven’t steered me wrong with a sport yet.
    no name – you think i don’t know that? you think i don’t know that i could put on any of the TONS of rain gear i accumulated while riding through the icy rain, day in and day out, in the washington winters for two years? man, what i do NOT need right now is a bracing "buck up, soldier" talk from someone with no name. what i NEED is a "hey, yeah, this sucks, but it will get better soon, and then you’ll get to do the kinds of rides you’ve been looking forward to." i thought that i had made that clear.
    note to everyone/anyone else who thinks it’s their role to snap me out of my funk, through the medium of a tough, bracing pep talk: it’s not your role. either agree with me that this weather sucks and comfort me with assurances it will get better soon, or plan to have me rip you a new one. i am not to be trifled with today.

  6. Comment by AMG in Texas | 09.22.2006 | 6:01 pm

    Over here in Texas, our weather went from 100+ each day in August to the 80’s in September.  What a dramatic change indeed.  We can all thank the El Niño effect that has formed out in the Pacific for this wierd weather.
    How anybody can ride their bike in the snow is beyond me… over here anytime it snows or sleets the entire city shuts down and all schools close.  Then, all of those fools that THINK they can drive in the snow/ice (who ignore the TV and Radio alerts on school and business closings) go out an wreck their cars.  The News stations know where they will all bite it and position live cams over there for our viewing pleasure!  What kind of an idiot will try to cross an icy bridge AFTER WATCHING THE CAR IN FRONT SLIDE INTO THE GUARDRAIL???  Seems like EVERYBODY.  The autobody shops love the white stuff.
    Dug, sorry to hear of your misfortune.  Good thing you didn’t take out any cyclist who was trying to prove he can ride in the snow/ice.
    AMG in Texas

  7. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 6:04 pm

    refund?  REEEFUND?
    yep, we had a cold (slightly less warm) front move through south florida last night. today’s high will be in the upper 80’s.  putting the nightrider light on tonight to head out at 5 a.m. in the  morning , just to beat the heat. dang, i can’t wait until we get the highs in the 70’s so we can do a ride without using spf 306.
    i feel your pain, just in a different way, sort of. actually not really, sorry. will you be using vaseline for the procedure?

  8. Comment by Random Reviewer | 09.22.2006 | 6:14 pm

    here’s some good news. 10 day forcast has nothing but sun and a return to the 60s and 70s. that doesn’t suck.

  9. Comment by Lofgrans | 09.22.2006 | 7:07 pm

    Its Lofgrans here, don’t know why my profile didn’t pop up as usual.
    Yes, Winter sucks. I have recently decided that I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) check it out here http://www.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/27.cfm AMG and bikemike you can kiss (and I believe I speak for the group here) our collective frozen !#*’s.

  10. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 09.22.2006 | 7:08 pm

    I fully concur that we are getting ripped off this year, but the problem is that we get ripped off every year. It is happening about a month early this year, but 7 out of the 9 years I’ve lived in Utah, it has snowed in the valley by the thrid week in October AND fall has lasted approximately 5 days each year.
    Did you hear that storm that rolled through last night/this morning. WOW. The thunder-clap that woke me up made me think that our neighbor’s house had exploded or something. It hailed about 1/2 inch deep at our house.
    P.S. It’s supposed to be 90 degrees and sunny in St.George Tuesday.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 7:24 pm

    Why is it the first snow always brings out the no-drives ? How does one forget how to steer and brake properly in snowy/icy conditions. For those that have been married along time, do you forget how to have sex after a long drought ? I sure didn’t. I didn’t have to put on chains for traction, either. Slow down, think ahead and you won’t be clipping guard rails, or reflector signs. Both are tough on the paint. Also, cel phone and make-up can wait, at least until your stopped.
    Be Carefull Out There.
    Boz, The Safety Sargent

  12. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 09.22.2006 | 7:47 pm

    Boz, (not that dug needs any defense, in fact, based on what I know about dug, I’d say he’s indefensible if not defenseless) if you saw the hills that dug has to drive on, you wouldn’t be surprised that it is nearly impossible to drive on them when they are slick. Not to mention the fact that since dug (and I) have to go from the far sub-urbs of SLC to down-town SLC, bad weather turns the commute into an ordeal, an epic adventure of survival, rage, and boredom. 
    This whole topic reminds me that over the last couple years, I’ve started to understand why so many people want to live in cental coastal California. There are very few places in the country where you have moderate winters and summers. Here in Utah you can choose stunningly hot summers and great winters, or a yearly iceage followed my nice summers. There is no inbetween.

  13. Comment by mtnbound | 09.22.2006 | 8:21 pm

    Yeah, this weather sucks.  I blinked and missed fall.  The mountains in CO are expecting over a foot of snow.  My theory of relativity is whenever relatives visit from the east, they bring crappy weather with them for all of us out here(I assume so they won’t believe the 300 days of sun).  A friend of mine’s relatives from back east came to town yesterday (just as the weather turned bad) and are leaving sunday, exactly when the sun’s supposed to return.  Yep, the theory’s holding strong!  Anyway, this weather just means its time to plan a Moab trip.
    Mtnbike W

  14. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 8:30 pm

    Botched- I was accusing dug of being a no drive, but the morons he had to dodge in general. I live in a town with steep hill and lots of snow. I see it every day to and from work. Kinda make me want to buy a tow truck so I can say to people " well, how much you got ?" when they ask how much to pull them out of the ditch.

  15. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 9:00 pm

    Dr. FC,
    I called Ma. She said to take a short vacation, or long weekend, to San Diego, where it is a lovely autumn season now. She arranged that for us because she feels badly that our city is bankrupt (or nearly so).
    Later (in a few (days/weeks/month or so), it will be: 1) Better 2) Indian Summer 3) A late winter …in Utah.
    …then you can ride and quit whining. In the meantime, eat some tiramisu.
    DP Cowboy

  16. Comment by Unknown | 09.22.2006 | 9:07 pm

    I WAS’NT accussing dug of being a moron.  Just my usual fumble-finger typing.

  17. Comment by Andrew | 09.22.2006 | 9:21 pm

    Yep, this global warming sucks all right.
    BTW, I presented a resolution to our local mtb club about petitioning the government about prohibiting the entire month of February. It generated little enthusiasm, which surprised me because I thought that all of us can agree on the fact that February sucks out loud.
    the weak link

  18. Comment by sans auto | 09.22.2006 | 10:18 pm

      Golf is fun as long as you don’t expect to be good.  Today was a perfect golf weather because finally something was worse than my golf game.  If you ever want to play, just let me know.

  19. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 09.23.2006 | 4:14 am

    From your notes… I agree, your weather sucks.  Mine on the other hand is an almost tropical early summer.  It’s exactly 80 f’nheit at 2pm with a mild breeze blowing off the ocean (tail wind for the home stretch of a 40 mile ride (sorry, I couldn’t resist that last bit (or the first bit))).  The only reason I wore an undershirt on today’s ride was because the people I was riding with have a very broad interpretation of a straight line.  It’s not exactly body armour, but it stops a good proportion of road rash in the event of an unscheduled dismounting at the hands of the gumbies.

  20. Comment by Zed | 09.23.2006 | 6:27 am

    I think we just get one of these every September. THAT MEANS IT’S GOING AWAY–it’s supposed to be comforting.
    Think of it this way: all of those sandy, dirty, dusty trails will now be slightly moist and hardpacked, so you don’t have to inhale them as well as riding them. That’s got to count for something.

  21. Comment by Born4Lycra | 09.23.2006 | 3:06 pm

    Look look my name my name. A gloriously productive 5 minutes when my 14 going on 23 year old daughter actually holds a conversation with me and all sorts of wonderful things happen. Thanks Dana.
    FC you did exactly the right thing. I agree with you entirely stay home and eat trifle. Let one rip and go to bed early. Tomorrow is another day and it will probably be really windy as well as snowing etc. Or maybe the sun will shine, the birds will be singing and thorn proof tubes really will be thorn proof. Send your weather our way. Here in Sth Oz we have just had the driest winter on record and are looking at serious water restrictions – probably be limited to only carrying one biddon. It’s all doom and gloom and my Football team has just lost one game away from the equivalent of your Superbowl. But I can’t complain – no one listens.

  22. Comment by Unknown | 09.23.2006 | 7:28 pm

    You know what else I’m not ready for Eldon? The (*^&ing wind. I’ve been enjoying nice light breezes all summer. It’s been wonderful. Why is it wonderful? Because last year I got blown off my road *AND* mountain bikes by 50+mph winds here in the Front Range. And I’m not a 110lbs woman either as you can now verify for the other readers. I hearby request that winter step back and wait for at least the time change before blowing me off my bike again. That would be awesome. Otherwise I’ll have to eat struddel everyday from now until next summer so that I weigh enough not to get blown off the road. Hmmm so that’s how Ulrich does it. Oh look, the flags are nearly being blown off the flagpoles outside today. &(*^(*&

    -Unofficial member #2 of the bring back fall club

  23. Comment by Unknown | 09.23.2006 | 7:28 pm

    You know what else I’m not ready for Eldon? The (*^&ing wind. I’ve been enjoying nice light breezes all summer. It’s been wonderful. Why is it wonderful? Because last year I got blown off my road *AND* mountain bikes by 50+mph winds here in the Front Range. And I’m not a 110lbs woman either as you can now verify for the other readers. I hearby request that winter step back and wait for at least the time change before blowing me off my bike again. That would be awesome. Otherwise I’ll have to eat struddel everyday from now until next summer so that I weigh enough not to get blown off the road. Hmmm so that’s how Ulrich does it. Oh look, the flags are nearly being blown off the flagpoles outside today. &(*^(*&

    -Unofficial member #2 of the bring back fall club

  24. Comment by Born4Lycra | 09.24.2006 | 5:44 am

    Whoa and a picture too (not my real image). Thanks again to Dana who chose the pic. I mentioned earlier it would probably be windy too and it bloody is. It’s been blowing a gale with strong gusts not very safe at all. Good day for fixing tubes, bike adjustments etc etc – now all I got to do is find someone that can do it. 

  25. Comment by Katie | 09.24.2006 | 11:55 pm

    You get Winter – we get Summer. Sydney had 34 degrees Celcius yesterday, and 115km/h winds. We have bushfires. It’s not halfway through Spring yet.
    Bloody global warming.

  26. Comment by Unknown | 09.25.2006 | 5:49 pm

    At what point can you stop using (not his real name) when referring to Rick Sunderlage (not his real name)   I think you have exhuasted all measure to ensure that when someone reads  your blog about Rick Sunderlage they know it is not his real name.


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