Here in Georgia, it’s that time of year when weather conditions are changing rapidly. In the last week alone, we have swung between icy conditions and snow, to beautiful sunshine and spring-like temperatures. And I’m sure we’re going to head back the other way in short order.
It occurs to me that these conditions are perfectly suited to generating the subject of today’s post: Micro-Climates.
“What exactly is a micro-climate” I hear you all ask. OK, I hear somebody ask. OK. I’m going to tell you anyway: A micro climate is a section of road that exhibits different characteristics to the main section of the road — due to the surrounding physical elements.
When weather conditions are changeable, it is quite possible to be riding a perfectly sound stretch of road, and suddenly come round a bend to find that things have changed dramatically. As you can imagine, this has the potential to ruin your day! A picture may demonstrate better:
In this picture, there is an area beneath the wall which has snow and rubble because the wall is shading the area while the rest of the snow has melted.
It stands to reason that by identifying the conditions that can create micro-climates, we stand a much better chance of pre-empting them.
Some of the conditions that can create micro-climates are:
- Areas — particularly bends — that have shaded sections. These sections can be created by man-made structures, such as a walls and buildings, or by natural elements such as trees and shrubs.
- Bodies of water, which may cool the surrounding area, or keep them warmer than surrounding areas — so promoting fog.
- Large, natural, physical characteristics such as mountains and valleys. A valley can create a wind-tunnel effect which has the ability to make certain stretches of road much colder than surrounding areas. A mountain can, of course shade large areas of road beneath it. These natural elements can also create areas of patchy fog.
- Bridges, which can stay much colder in winter than the rest of the road which is kept warm by the earth underneath. “Bridge may ice in winter”.
So, what can we do to deal with micro-climates? Be aware of the conditions that can create them (the temperature, changeable weather, a recent rain, the direction of the sun, a recent period of snow), and take extra care when these conditions exist. In particular, it is worth keeping an eye on the sun’s position. Doing so, and keeping the possibility of micro-climates in mind, we can most often predict where a micro-climate exists, and adjust our riding accordingly.
Of course, as we now all take extra care with our positioning, we are naturally in a much better position in the road to see these conditions as they occur.
Until next time, Scoot Safely!