Wash Out

wash out

EDIT: You can disregard most of this post. The heavy rains moved eastward and the forecast looks a lot better. I drove up overnight and will ride.
The Blue Ridge Breakaway has not been officially canceled, but it has been for me and a number of other riders I know.

As anyone living in the southeast knows, rain has been a killer this year. Just when we think we’ve had our fill, another big system comes right along. This time we have a couple big systems passing through, one of which has been punishing us today, and another that’s lurking behind it, threatening tomorrow’s festivities. You can see both of them in the image below.

8-16 weather

For those of you who choose to ride tomorrow, whether on the Breakaway or elsewhere, be careful! You can talk about Rule #9 as much as you want, but safety is paramount. There are a couple things to watch out for. First off, the temperature is going to be unseasonably low at 65 degrees in the valleys, and colder in elevation. By adding some heavy rain, the temperatures will be even colder. If someone decides to brave it and ride up to 6,000 feet, they could risk hypothermia. Not to mention, visibility and stability decreases. We don’t want people to get hit by cars or ride off of mountains.

Zeke, the Blue Ridge Breakaway ride directory, posted some useful details on his blog that you can read here. Even though the ride is going to go on, you can see from his post that they have contingency plans in the case of bad weather. They are also hopeful that at least some of the weather will miss them.

From my research, the most accurate forecast that I’ve found is showing about a 60% chance of rain at the start of the event, with slightly increasing chances later in the day. The threat of thunderstorms comes later in the day, which makes things even trickier because that’s when people could be riding on the Parkway.

As for me, the decision was difficult. This was the one century I was really looking forward to revisiting. Next year will probably not be an option because of Haute Route, but I will return someday. As much as I want to participate, it’s hard to justify all the preparation and travel just to ride 7-8 hours in the rain. That is not my idea of fun. On top of that, I’ve been fighting a cold and injuries, all of which could get worse. This is a tough decision, but the right decision.

I’m sure many brave souls will give it a shot. The organizers are going forward as planned, “Rain or Shine,” as Zeke says. I implore all the riders to be careful with their body, and that the volunteers and organizers be mindful abou people’s safety. Everyone can learn from an event earlier this year where we lost someone in harsh riding conditions. I have the utmost respect and trust for those behind this event, but things can happen.

As for me, I’ll be on the trainer watching the dumbest movie I can find.

10 responses to “Wash Out

  • gr8smokieszeke


    You’re safety points are well made. Fortunately, today’s weather turned out to be great and was almost the same forecast as for tomorrow. We seem to be on the clearing side of things and are hopeful for tomorrow. We currently are sitting around 425 registrations and are enjoying a steady run of folks picking up their packets. We just had a registrant in from Greenville,SC who reported major improvement in the weather as they came north. The latest forecast now for our area is 40% chance of passing showers. Time will tell…

    • aaronwest

      Hopefully the clearing will continue. I am still seeing right around 60% chance at start time, although it looks like in the afternoon the chances have decreased. That’s a good sign. Good luck tomorrow, however the weather turns out.

  • Terry Jackson

    Good Choice!! Live to ride another day!

  • Steve

    Discretion is the better part of valor on this one, I think. There’s a fine line between “gutsy” and “reckless.” I think you’re on the right side of it.

    • aaronwest

      It probably was the right decision based on the info I had last night, but after seeing the forecast this morning, the guts took over. I look forward to writing about this one.

  • bgddyjim

    I love riding in the rain down to about 50 degrees – I have a blast (and now that I’ll have a dedicated rain bike it’ll be even better) but I’ve read about your persistent cold, you’re making the right choice brother. No way you should tempt that fate.

    • aaronwest

      A rain bike?

      Southeast tends to have harsh thunderstorms that are very unpleasant and scary to ride through. I don’t mind riding in a little rain, and sometimes appreciate it on a warm day.

      • bgddyjim

        Yeah, I’m not about riding in those gnarly mountain storms… I’m talking about the day-long rains. No lightning, no heavy winds, just a downpour. Warm day popcorn-storm rains, maybe twenty or thirty minutes, are the best.

        My 5200 is going to be my rain bike, my new Venge will be for fair weather only – don’t know which I’ll bring on vacation yet. Probably the Venge.

      • aaronwest

        Yeah, those are all great, but we haven’t seen enough this year. It seems to have been either torrential downpour T-storm or clear.

        I would recommend the Venge for vacation. šŸ™‚

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