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Interminable weather

AKA – The Not-Quite Bonneville Salt Flats

This is the time of year I hate, the in-between time. The time of hope for and trepidation surrounding traveling on two wheels. This year, it seems like it’s worse than ever.

I live in what is known, even in Canada, as the Pacific Northwest. (To be a pedant, it is in fact Canada’s Pacific Southwest, and is nowhere near to what I think of as the United States’ Pacific Northwest, which would properly be Alaska.) Normally in February, we have crocuses starting, and by this time in early March we normally have tulips coming up. This year has been somewhat problematic, with a dump of snow over a week ago that is still hanging around in the corners. Snow in this area normally is gone in 1-2 days, especially at this time of year.

The trouble with this sort of middling weather is that it’s terrible for motorcycling. Not mid-day – at mid-day it’s up to maybe 8°C, a lovely temperature. It’s the mornings that are the issue, which is when I am doing the first half of my commute. My little Volkswagen gives me an audible and visual warning when it’s 4°C or lower, so that I’m aware there might be black ice. I’ve experienced black ice on a bike once – and don’t relish the opportunity again. And because of black ice, the local city fathers send the fleet of 2 (it might be more, but it’s laughably small) road maintenance trucks out onto the major and minor roads and coat them with a brine of (generally) sodium chloride, aka salt, or calcium chloride, aka something akin to salt. I’ve sold cars in BC that I’ve moved from Alberta or Ontario and buyers discount them because they were in a winter with road salt. Let me tell you that the brine is as bad as rock salt in my opinion, and it’s EVERYWHERE and in massive quantities when it might get a little slippy.

So, there I am today, it’s 3C at my house, and will get up to 9C later. But there are still snowy patches out there, and brine, and other things to make the ride generally stressful because you’re thinking about how your bike is getting eaten by the road salt. We need one good day of rain, and the temperatures to get back to normal. And all the while the wistfulness and the impatience builds.

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