Friday, July 26, 2013

Riding in the Rain - 102

I could start with "Riding in the Rain - 101" but that's pretty simple: Get on your bike when it's raining and ride it.  This will be more of an advanced course.  It could also be called "Riding in the Rain Without Being Miserable".  I realize that grammatically there can be only one most important thing but when riding in the rain it turns out that there are several.

Attitude: The first most important thing is to embrace riding in the rain.  If you go out with the dread of getting wet you are already defeated.  I usually ride with headphones but on a nice rainy day it's nice to unplug and listen to the sound of the rain falling.  Traffic free back roads are the best place to do this.  Unplugging also avoids the Fried Ipod Syndrome.  Despite the fact that they are intended to be used for sports (That whole iPod / Nike+ thing), iPods aren't even remotely, minutely or incidentally water resistant.  Trust me, runner-girl is on her 4th 5th.

Bike: Fenders are the second most important thing.  Getting wet from the rain is nice, getting a mouth full of sprayed up road grime is not.  Attitude can overcome the lack of fenders if you get caught in an unexpected downpour. Other than that any bike will do, just make sure to lube the chain more often.  Wider tires are better than narrow ones.  Riding a road bike in the rain works fine but braking will be significantly reduced.

Clothing: Above about 65 degrees I tend to just wear a shirt and get wet.  Below 65 usually wear some kind of rain gear.  My favorite is the Showers Pass: Club Pro Jacket.  It's quite waterproof, vented, visible with pockets for a decent price.  You can spend a lot more and not get any more functional and you can spend a little less and still get wet.  Below 45 I like to wear a long sleeved wool base layer under it because that wet nylon sticking to your arms gets clammy.  For commutes above 45or so degrees I just let my legs get wet.  For colder rainy commutes I do have some Showers Pass: Storm Pants to keep me warm. For anything but the coldest riding they are usually wetter on the inside than on the outside. (Your temperature thresholds will probably vary, I tend to be cold on rides and would rather be warmer at the risk of being too hot)

Shoes: Wet feet and the shoes that are wet the next time you put them on are my least favorite thing about riding in the rain.  Admittedly, this is an area I haven't come up with a solution yet.  I've tried the plastic bag method:
This Does Not Work!
without any success.  Somehow (probably through wicking) the shoes get just as wet with the bags on as they would without them.  I think I'll explore shoe cover options.  I'm thinking Showers Pass: Club Shoe Covers the brand hasn't done me wrong yet.

Gloves:  This is another area with mixed results.  There are gloves that keep the rain from getting to your hands, of course, your hands sweat so much that the rain would be an improvement and they take FOREVER to dry.  Otherwise, there are some decent gloves that can delay your hands from getting wet.  I've found that Lizard Skins Blizzard gloves, although horrible in the cold in my opinion, are pretty good in rain from 40-60 degrees.  They seem to be discontinued so you're on your own.  On warm rainy days I just skip the gloves all together. 

Head: Another most important thing is wearing a hat with a visor under your helmet.  It keeps most of the rain off the front of your glasses and all of the rain off the back of your glasses.  This was one of the simplest improvements to comfort I made for commuting in the rain.  Glasses to keep rain out of your eyes are almost a must.  I prefer glasses with a hydrophobic coating like Typhoon Optics Mariner.  Speaking of glasses, it helps to keep a dry (or at least not sweaty) tissue or towel in your rain gear pocket for wiping glasses.  Actually it helps for any ride.

Lights: Use them!  These aren't the most important thing if you don't mind getting hit by cars.  Otherwise they are strongly recommended.  Rainy days are dark, driver's visibility is impaired by wet windshields, Etc.  I like NiteRider USB rechargeable cordless lights.

Cargo: Unless you have known waterproof panniers or bags I recommend ziplock bags.  Everything goes in a ziplock and then it goes in my pack.  Reuse them over an over.

Other Considerations: Sealcoating, chip seal, railroad tracks, manhole covers, crosswalk paint and some other things might as well be ice when they get wet.  A sudden loss of all traction isn't' fun.  My elbow and leg did slow me down as I skidded across the pavement but the friction took its toll or a wet ride last year.
This isn't the only skin I lost, but it is what I can show.

So get out there and get wet!  You've heard of "Dancing in the Rain" and "Singing in the Rain" take the next step and start "Riding in the Rain".   Life's short, Enjoy the Ride.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome information! AND...I did get out and ride in the rain! Not looking forward to putting those wet shoes back on for the ride home.