Last weekend was quintessential Seattle weather in October. Stunningly beautiful one day and rain the next. I mostly welcome the rain, it cleans the air, the city, and signals that Fall has arrived. The Fall is the time of year when I spend hours of my weekends riding the city, the suburbs, and country. When you ride in Seattle, you’ll need a rain bike and the proper gear.
My rain bike is a custom Davidson — it’s a touring/road bike with long-pull brakes and eyelets for mounting fenders and clearance. The frame material is titanium, for all-day riding comfort and the geometry is relaxed.
New for 07, I’ll also ride the Modal, a concept travel bike that’s equipped with Hed’s carbon commuters Jet 60 C2.
My weather gear is a mixture of Windtex from various vendors, Windstopper, and microclimate liners from Craft. I wear 3 levels on my body
and knickers or tights with pads. Gloves, booties, and a cap are essential as well. I use Windstopper gloves with a liner inside. On really wet days, I’ll bring extra gloves and change them 1/2 way through the ride. For my feet, I’ll wear normal socks, with a light lycra cover and a Windtex bootie. However, I’m trying a new bootie from Sugoi that’s “a fleece lined rubberized laminate that keeps water out and heat in.” I tested the booties this weekend and they’re very well made, kept my feet dry and combine my two-layer bootie method into one. I think they’re too hot for warmer days, but Sugoi obviously has product designers on staff that ride in the rain. I wear a Windstopper cycling cap with a bill, ear flaps, and fleece lining. The bill keeps the water out of my eyes, and when it’s even colder or I get chilled, I flip the ear flaps down and stay warmer. Little changes like covering ears, or changing gloves can make an enormous difference, when I’m in the May Valley, it’s pouring, and I’ve still got 2.5 hours to ride.
The reason Windtex/Windstopper works in Seattle, is that you’re going to soak through eventually (sometimes in minutes), no matter what, so you want to block the wind and stay warm. While you’d think that Gore-Tex would work well, it doesn’t because it’s too hot. And that’s the main problem you face in wet weather: staying warm, but not hot and sweaty. Windstopper from Gore-Tex works the same as Windtex, it’s great for gloves and hats, but still too hot for body wear and too thick to be used in jackets. Windtex is a light, stretchy heat-regulating membrane that repels wind and water.
Note that a 3-layer system will fail if you’re not moving and burning calories to stay warm. Stopping in the rain is always dangerous in the winter. It usually doesn’t get that cold in Seattle, but you’ll start shivering within minutes of stopping to fix a flat or for coffee.
When it’s colder, I’ll add a set of arm warmers and Smartwool socks. Another tip is to make sure you’re eating and drinking. It’s easy to forget to eat when it’s cold. You don’t want to bonk in wet weather because that makes for one miserable ride.
Last year, during our unbelievably wet Spring, I was underdressed, underfed, and bonked. Pam was nice enough to pick me up and take me home.
You expect to see lots of skin in Vegas, and the booth babes at Interbike, but I was surprised by Skins technology for several reasons. First cause I got a condom in a Skins wrapper and thought, “condoms at Interbike, well … cyclists and safe sex, cool, maybe it was an Africa project or something.” Nope; just clever marketing. Second, I kept trying to compare Skins to performance underwear, like micro-climate stuff or Lycra Power. Nope; finally, when their Director of Communications said, “stop, just check it out, try the glove box,” and I was impressed. So was the rest of the hugga contigent at the show.
Skins is Gradient Compression performance equipment that aids in recovery and performance and it’s a “got to try it” thing. Like the guy I met at the airport who had worn them non stop since stopping by the Skins booth (have not yet investigated the smelly factor) .
I can’t speak to the science, but I do know that Skins are the most comfortable pair of tights I’ve put on. Very curious that when I first put them on, they feel cold, like a heat exchange and then later some leg tingling. I sleep in them and the next day my legs did feel fresher.
I’ll post again when I’ve worn them after some long rides. As I’ve been posting, Fall training is just starting and that includes lifting. Also, check the Skins site for all the details on the technology.
It takes a big commitment to ride in the rain; especially in the city, where the risks go up, the flats go up, the hazards increase, and it’s just downright dirty and gritty. The other cyclists I’ve talked to are dreading the rainy season.
In Seattle, rain is a fact of riding and commuting, but training takes a big commitment and I’ve got to work myself into it. Last week, I added one fender to a bike as a start and on Sunday night, I prepped the rain bike (we ride rain bikes here, special just for the rain). And the first ride of the Fall season was in a storm!
How do you get through a rainy ride or winter weather in your area?
After a few days of early fall rain my folder is filthy. Sure, mounting a front fender would have helped, but I didn’t do that. Instead I have to wash my bike. Belgian Kneewarmers ran a great set of tips for all late/early season cyclists on just this topic: Strong enough for a cyclocross Hard(wo)man, gentle enough for… me.
I stopped by the shop to replace a sticky cable housing during the Fall storm ride and discovered that the Modal concept bike had been tack welded together, wrapped in plastic, and awaiting the Ti welder.
Just in time for a Fall storm in Seattle, Ibex sent us their Merino Wool
Knickers. During the course of an 1.5 hour ride, I rode in gray dampness, a squalling storm cell with 40 MPH winds, blindingly-bright sun, and some bonus hail – I was soaked through in about 3 minutes. Merino Wool and Ibex’s Climawool (stretchy, breathable, wool/synthetic blend) is perfect for a wide range of temperatures.
The Ibex knickers feature Climawool over the knees and mid-weight Merino in the back. They also have a “sansabelt” style elastic in the waist, like their shorts.
The knickers were comfortable, fit well, and most importantly kept my temperate moderate. Where my arms were freezing with lycra arm warmers during the squall part of the ride, I was good on the knees and thighs. The weight of the knickers is good for Fall and Spring, but not heavy enough for the Winter. The pad was OK, worked well for my brief ride, commuting, and errands, but I wouldn’t want to ride a century with it.
We’re big fans of Ibex for casual, travel, and cycling wear. For my trip next week to Taipei, I’m wearing mostly Ibex, Smartwool Socks, and Kuhl pants. More on that trip later.
Also check the Ibex Buzz blog for posts about their clothes and the company.
A bicycle caravan – with the theme, “Money or Life” – travels 500 miles across Europe to join protests in Prague against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Caravan/Prague is a feature-length documentary about the caravan and is available now on DVD.
While you were still asleep, nestled cosy in your warm bed (Ok, maybe it was just me) the hardmen of Woodland Park were doing hard core CX Training in the rain, coached by Todd Herriott and Russell Cree of Herriott Sports Performance. And they’re making it look easy.
The training is focusing on core CX skills (witness Dave Reed’s heroic remount above!), as well as strength building exercises like plyometrics. Workouts are Tuesday mornings early at woodland park, call Herriott if you’re interested (may be full already, but they offer many other services as well). The current attendees include some of the top Cx contenders this year (Nick Weighall) and last (Morgan Schmidt placed 2nd in the U23 nationals last year, wasn’t sure he’d be competing in CX this year).
How, you may wonder, do I know they were making it look easy? Weeeelll, they made it look so easy I rode my little folder down one of the easier hills after they left. It’s ok, only my pride was bruised.
While entertaining a crew visiting from Bike Freak Magazine, the Chinook Cycling Club took them on various rides and introduced them to the famous tackweed (goathead) and a site dedicated to eradicating it. That reminded me of all the tackweed flats, running Slime, Mr. Tuffy’s, and it was usually better to leave a goathead in the tire until you got home.
In Seattle, most flats are caused by pinches, glass, staples, nails, and it’s much worse in the rainy season. Starting last year, I stopped using Mr. Tuffy, and instead roll the best tires with the most rubber and replace them as soon as they wear. I carry two tubes, and a tire boot for sidewall blow outs. I’ve also got fast patches and regular old Rema Tip Tops.
I also believe in flat karma, where some years you’ll flat all the time, and sometimes almost never. To put positive flat energy into the universe, I always ask a fellow cyclist who’s stopped if they need help and will give up a tube to the needy. I even bought a tire during a ride for a friend once.
What hazards await you on your ride and how do you avoid them? What’s your flat karma?