The $1000, 1400 lumen Lupine Betty as bright a light as you can buy these days. It’s been available from the parent company in Germany (Lupine Lighting Systems) for a while but they’re just rolling in here in the states from Gretna bikes. This is an incredibly bright light – 22 watts max if you’re stacking up against headlights – light a patch of sunlight on your path all night long.
This is an updated and republished post from 05.
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.
- Craft liner
- Windtex jacket
- Outer shell
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.
Velonews has video about Skins.
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?
Previous posts on the rain