I’ve ridden in sideways, full-frontal, deluge, drizzle, mist, freezing, bounce-off-the-top-tube-into-your-face rain. Snow, blizzard, freezing fog, and wet dust storms that spit mud drops. On one particularly epic Mt Rainer ride, a Forest Service Ranger handed me a plastic garbage bag so I could make it down the road a few thousand feet into warmer weather. I shivered so badly, the bike shook.
When the temps dip below 32, I don’t ride. Here in Seattle temperatures that low don’t last long. And I stop for hail too, it’s just really unpleasant. Wait a while and it’ll pass.
- Riding in the Rain in Seattle
- Cold Weather Riding
- Committing to the Rain
- Riding in the Rain
- Rainy Season in Seattle
- Rain Tag
Like Pacific Northwest writer Tom Robbins, we’re actually fans of bad weather – for the first three months of the rainy season at least. It cleans the air, reminds you of the hard work and the struggle it takes to get really good at something.
A steady, windriven rain composes music for the psyche. It not only nurtures and renews, it consecrates and sanctifies. It whispers in secret languages about the primordial essence of things. –Tom Robbins
It also destroys drivetrains and bubbles up debris from ditches into your path. Grunge describes the music from this place, it sounds like gray skies, and is also what covers your bike when you get back home.
While readers are offering their tips on commuting and riding in the rain in another post, David is out riding and reviewing more winter gear somewhere in New York at the moment. For 2010, the most-talked-about technical material is eVent. We’ve seen prototypes from our partners and Joe, a long-time team member and training partner, was testing Hincapie’s eVent jacket on a ride last week.
I’ve been racing for 23 years in the Northwest. We are one of a few states that live/train/race consistently in the rain year round. I’ve had every kind of “rain jacket” on the planet. To be honest the old “Gore-like” jackets we had made for us 15 years ago was as close to a “as good as it gets” as I’ve had. Until now that is, this new eVent Jacket is simply the best wet weather garment I’ve ever had. Yes, you can out-sweat it but it takes some work. It breathes better then most “breathable” fabrics but it is completely water proof, not to be confused with water resistant.
If you have to ride in the rain (and cold) this is the best jacket you can buy. It never ceases to amaze me at how most people will NOT spend money on “rain gear”. Maybe it’s because of previous new fabric technologies NOT living up to expectations. This one will. Being DRY and WARM is worth the few extra dollars for this garment.
Note: those Gore-like jackets Joe refers to still come out in the worst weather. I’ve got two. One in rotation and the other stashed away. I use it as an outer shell and renew it with NixWax. No jacket has ever worked better in the worst-weather, to date.
I judge a rainy ride by the time it takes to soak through. You’re going to get wet, the challenge is staying warm, but not too hot. I’ve got an eVent jacket coming to test and expect more from other manufactures. Note for the purposes of this post, eVent is for training, touring, and the big miles. My fav jacket for urban riding is this Ibex Soft Shell prototype and a full compliment of wool. It’s replaced the Vertigo Loden jacket and PreCip shell I wore last season. The prototype eventually got released as the Vim Hybrid.
- Extra gloves
- Extra shell or vest
Changing gloves and socks makes an enormous difference on a ride. Also bring a backup shell or vest to put on if you get too chilled. If a rest stop has a blower, use it to warm up your socks. We use the Louis Garneau booties with a lyrcra bootie underneath and wool socks. Keep the shoes loose so your circulation doesn’t get cut off when your feet swell.
Cyclists have all sorts of theories on not getting flats. Some attribute it to karma and others to not riding in the gutter. It’s the rubber. Get a tire with the most rubber you can and check the tires for cuts and tears. I don’t use Mr. Tuffys as they feel like you’re riding with sand in your tires. They also make your tubes more prone to pinch flats. The tire of choice for this winter is the Ultremo DDs. I also use Michelin Pro 2s, but not the Pro 3s. They cut too easy. Another good winter tire are Continental All-Weather Grand pix. They’re a bit stiff, but good for the puncture proofness.
Wear What Works
The division in cycling between the lycra-wearers and not doesn’t make sense to me. Why wouldn’t you wear the best material for the ride? Commuting to work for an hour, sure wear a thrift-store Pendleton and some cut-off army surplus pants.
Riding hard with the boys on the weekend and then it’s best-of technical materials. My closet has equal parts of both and I even mix them up. A Windtek vest over a wool liner for the brisk mornings with light rain.
Not my thing, but tweed is popular too.