John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Although it's not hobbling the city's unicycle aficionados, for what it's worth.
Each year, on what's statistically the peak of the city's most miserable winter weather, cyclists in Portland, Oregon's Worst Day of the Year Ride take a grueling 45-mile trek to endure the worst of what winter can throw at them.
Unless it's snowing, of course, in which case they just stay home.
To be fair to the Worst Day's organizers, a scaled-down part of this year's event – a 15-mile "Urban Course" around the city – is still planned for this Sunday. But the longer and hillier "Challenge Course" has been scrapped due to an incoming snowstorm that could deliver freezing rain and up to 6 inches of fresh powder. And that's just too much foul-weather for these foul-weather riders, reports The Oregonian:
"The event is not being cancelled," said Porter Childs, director of the ride, noting that all participants can still take the urban route as planned. "With all the precipitation on the ground and the freezing temperatures all the way to Sunday, we fear the roads will be icy, freezing, slippery," he said. "We have determined that the [challenge] course is unsafe and we always place safety first."
The decision to close the challenge route didn't come easily. About a third of participants in the ride take that route, he said, many of them dedicated, hardcore cyclists. And while people are free to bike the slippery hills of the course on their own, Childs said they simply can't sanction it as an organized, open event. "We are never going to put people in harm's way," he said.
Portland doesn't often face this kind of wintry blast during its self-proclaimed Worst Day, as the weather this time of year typically delivers only "mild discomfort," writes the paper. But the prospect of lashing snow has the city's outdoorsy types scrambling; this weekend's Polar Plunge, in which scantily clad swimmers dive into the Columbia River, has also been nixed.
Nevertheless, in a symbol of the city's enduring weirdness, there was a man on Friday morning taking a unicycle to work. Let's see if he shows up for Sunday's ride:
Top image: Flowizm / Flickr