Smoke Crazy

It’s been two days in a row now that I’ve wimped out on bike commuting because of the smoke from our 1000-some odd fires here in California. I’ve never seen it so bad; I have to keep telling myself it’s smoke because it looks just like fog or cloud cover. Problem is, I’m getting downright cranky from not riding. It’s funny how, once you get accustomed to riding 7 days a week, a couple of days off seems like an eternity. I just may go against my better judgement and take the bike tomorrow anyway.

I’d be curious to know if my fellow NorCal bike commuters are braving the bad air.

15 Responses to “Smoke Crazy”

  • Dale says:

    I see photos of people in China riding with some kind of mask over their faces. Is that an option?

  • Alan says:

    Good idea, thanks…

  • Loren Hackerott says:

    Worse smoke I’ve ever seen here in Merced. I’d told Merced is number six in bad air quality in the nation on a good day. Not riding much these days.

  • Leo Kodl says:


    Big Sur is burning. Here in neighboring Monterey, the acrid aroma of smoke is in the air.Like you, I can’t really tell the visual difference between air permeated with smoke…or fog. Until there is data that inhaling smoke is detrimental to my health…I’m riding.

    Leo in Monterey, where it is both foggy AND smokey…

  • Alan says:

    I rode this morning. Took it slow and it wasn’t bad. The smoke’s been hanging around so long now it hardly seems any worse outside than inside. We need a nice rainstorm (without lightning).

  • Beth Eakin says:


    I cycle (& sometimes bike commute) in NYC and finally got a mask to combat downtown fumes. It’s made by Respro specifically for active folks like cyclists; they may filter smoke, I’m not sure. They do get quite hot though; they’re made of neoprene, and they’re expensive. But now they’ve got one covered in Scotchlite so your face can shine in the dark. Might be worth investigating–and you’d bee seen, too.

    Thanks for the great blogs, Alan; I’ve been enjoying them since their previous incarnation. Here’s hoping the smoke clears soon out there.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks very much Beth – I’ll look into the Respro.


  • Bob Borzelleri says:

    The problem with riding in this stuff is that it is comprised of the smallest particles (PM2.5) and those are the really bad guys. They go very deep into the lungs and there is a fair amount of evidence that suggests that they never leave your lungs and cn lead to health issues.

    I’m not riding. I have two HEPA filters going in the house.

  • Dave says:

    I bicycle commuted on Monday and ended up feeling poorly because of it. I was going to wait until the air cleared up before riding again, but caved in yesterday and rode anyway. My eyes are still burning, but I’m not feeling ill (like I did on Monday). Other than the eyes, yesterday’s ride was pretty good.

  • Alan says:

    I just found a notice from my local health department recommending that people DO NOT use paper-type particle masks. Apparently, the filters are not fine enough to capture smoke particles, and they limit airflow which exacerbates the symptoms..

  • Croupier says:

    In Santa Cruz things have finally receded completely, smoke wise. Actually even before half containment on the Summit Fire the smoke had nearly completely dissipated from all along my commute. And that was a 1,500+ acre fire that was burning less than one mile from my house. I’m guessing the wind played a large role in that. The breezes from the shore and what not.

  • Alan says:


    I think all of your smoke ended up in Auburn… ;-)

    “Placer County, CA June 26, 2008 – Smoky conditions are widespread in Placer County from the valley floor to the Lake Tahoe area. Smoke continues to impact Placer County from fires burning in Placer County and throughout Northern California. Average measures of fine particulates yesterday were more than two (Roseville) to four (Auburn) times the federal standard.”

  • andy parmentier says:

    so i’m pedaling down an oregon highway..looking to my left and right. and there’s a dead possum on the road..which made me think of possum lodge, red green. looking to my left and right, i saw no way into the dense thicket of undergrowth. i thought about how the native americans of old would clear undergrowth with fire, so the trees could breathe. and then i pass an old ww2 army base-the ADAIR army base. reader’s digest article memory archives in my brain, was’nt i just thinking about red green? but there was a famous firefighter named red adair. i say i should rather be a firestarter than a firefighter. of the daily footbath/undergrowth variety. because if you don’t wash your feet every day, eventually you will turn into a raging inferno of stink and filth. nowadays, the only legal way to set fire is with fossil fuels, THAT’S the people’s daily footbath, as they step on their gas pedals. and so we have a collective raging inferno of
    internal combustion, and the inaccessibility of the forest is no problem because we drive right thru it, a car roof canopy instead of a leafy one.

  • andy parmentier says:

    red green, left/right left! rub 2 sticks together, rub brake/gas pedals together, or…..
    try bicycle pedals, get a sweat fire portable sweat lodge a blazin!
    sear-endipitally yours,

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » The Long Way Home says:

    […] in all the way from the coast (it made me anxious for Fall). It was a dramatic contrast to the smoke-filled 100+ days we had a few weeks ago. It was one of those days where you ride slow and take the long way home […]

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