What a miserable day! First, the town of Jackson is yet another tourist town, with lots of shops catering to the same. I had dinner at the Cadillac Grille and watched some of the Boston v. Anaheim playoff game. Had a Moose Drool brown ale, which, in addition to its catchy name, actually tasted pretty good. Brewed somewhere in Montana.
The next morning (Day Eight) it was raining with the temperature in the mid to upper-40s. Just about what I was expecting from the forecast. However, the forecast for Salt Lake City called for occasional showers with temperatures in the 70s, so I was hoping that the weather would clear and warm up as I traveled south from Jackson.
For the first time I had to get out all of my rain gear and warm clothing, and put them to use. Right off the bat, I learned a very important lesson: it takes a while to get all of the layers of the riding outfit on, and you expend a considerable amount of effort and energy in doing so. By the time you’re done, you are hot and sweaty and very uncomfortable. At this point you basically have two choices. Either you take some of the stuff off, which you will regret as soon as you get going, or you grit your teeth and live with it. I choose to do the latter.
Here’s where the second lesson of the day begins: Once you’ve gotten hot and sweaty underneath all of those layers, you are going to remain uncomfortable from quite a while, until the moisture gets wicked away from your body. Once it does, you won’t feel so sticky inside your clothes. But underneath all of those layers, there is no place for the moisture to go, so it remain in one of the middle layers, where it eventually cools and starts making you cold.
Lesson number three: Layering your clothes is intended to keep you warm by trapping your body heat within the layers of clothing. But your body doesn’t generate much heat just sitting on a scooter. In my case, the cold, wet middle layer won out over the not-much-generated body heat, and I was chilly the whole day. Not bad, mind you, but certainly not toasty warm like I was hoping to be.
So what did we learn here. First off, I need to choose my layers more carefully given the weather conditions. I think I would have been better off having fewer layers than I did, which would have made it faster and easier getting into everything to begin with. Second, I think you need to put your stuff on outside in the weather, ideally under cover of course, and to take your time doing it. Put the layers on one at a time, and allow time for your body to get used to the change in temperature. And use the least amount of effort as possible so that you don’t start sweating.
By the way, this situation is very similar to when I learned to SCUBA dive in Puget Sound. The water in Puget Sound is cold enough that you need to wear a wetsuit (or a drysuit, but those are expensive), but the wetsuit is very difficult to put on because it is skin-tight neoprene, and it traps your body heat and makes you sweat profusely while on land. The trick is to put on the pants while on the beach, using the least amount of effort as possible, then get in the water and put on the rest of it there.
As for the ride itself, it rained the whole way from Jackson down to Salt Lake City, and the temperature, which started out about 48-degrees, dropped down to about 42, and never got above 50 until right before getting to the Salt Lake basin, where it got all the way up to about 53. And did I mention that it rained the whole way? Mostly it was just a steady rain, but a couple of times it just opened up and poured for a few minutes. And several times I got splashed by cars and trucks driving through a big puddle going the opposite direction. It felt like somebody through a bucket of water in my face. But everything, including my gear, stayed reasonably dry. There will be no photos or videos from this segment of the trip. Both cameras stayed safely in their pouches inside the tank bag underneath its waterproof rain cover.
With the weather being what it was, it was hard to make out the surroundings anyway. Because of the elevation—mostly 6-8000 feet— the clouds were very low to the ground and clung to the mountainsides. I think that I was traveling down valleys in between tall mountain ranges, occasionally going up and over one, but I couldn’t really see much of the surroundings. So, the bottom line is that my first day riding in the rain could have been better, but it could have been a whole lot worse too.
I’m parked in a hotel in SLC, and tomorrow I’m heading south again for Moab Utah, the home of Arches National Park. Before I head out in the morning, I’m going to try and find a cycle shop so that I can supplement my gear with one or two items that might make the next rainy day go a little smoother. I’m also going to try and find an electronics store so that I can pick up some DVD+R’s so that I can dump some of the videos that I’ve shot onto them. I’m just about out of space on my hard drive. Catch you tomorrow, Day Nine.