Along with summer in my part of the world comes afternoon rains. I’ve learned a few things during my last few weeks of bicycle commuting.
My initial plan was to bring a rain coat and some rain pants. I lugged the rain coat and rain pants back and forth in my back pack for a couple months before we finally got some rain. During the first rain storm I stuffed my backpack in a garbage bag and put on my raincoat and rain pants.
The raincoat and rain pants kept the rain out, but I had another problem. They didn’t breath, and I started sweating… profusely. Pedaling a bike is a good way to build up some body heat, and with all that heat trapped in my rain gear I was getting really sweaty.
So basically, I could be wet from the rain, or I could be wet and sticky from my sweat.
After that first rain storm I ditched the rain gear and decided to just get wet if it rained. I didn’t have long to wait for another rain storm later that week and I tried going without any rain gear. This worked ok, but with even a mild storm I was soaked through and through.
This week I tried something else. I had read about people using rain capes. I had never heard of a rain cape, but apparently it’s like a rain poncho without arm holes. Rain capes may be common in other countries, but they are hard to find here. Since I couldn’t find a rain cape, I decided to try an old poncho I had stored away. I packed that in my backpack to try during the next rain storm.
The poncho actually worked pretty good. I stretched it out over the handlebars and it kept me mostly dry by making a little tent over me and my bike. Of course the storm I tested in was really windy, so my feet and legs still got wet. If I’m in a more gentle rain shower with my poncho, I think I’d actually stay mostly dry. Even better, I didn’t get all sweaty because I could get a breeze up under the poncho. Even better than that, when the rain stopped, I let the rain poncho fly up around my neck and it was an instant superhero cape. That made it so I could stay cool and look cool at the same time. (I looked cool in my mind anyway, I’m not sure what all the motorists thought.)
The rain poncho will be my rain setup for the foreseeable future.
On the topic of rain, I created a rule of sorts of when I’ll ride and when I’ll drive. I’m not such a hard core bicycle commuter that I refuse to drive on occasion. Here are my drive vs. ride rules.
- I’ll drive If it’s raining in the morning. There is no sense getting soaked on the way to work, especially since we don’t have showers at work.
- If the rain forecast is 60% or less, then I’ll ride my bike. You’d think 60% is a pretty good chance of rain, but from my experience it’s more likely that it will by dry when it’s time to go home.
More often than not, I’ll choose to ride my bike if there is even a remote chance that it might be sunny on the ride home. There is nothing I hate more than to drive to work because it’s supposed to rain, and find it to be a beautiful sunny day as I exit the building. I’d rather ride home in the rain than drive home in the sunshine.
One more thing I should mention is that I leave my work shoes at work. That makes it so I can wear my running shoes on my bike and not have to worry about ruining my good work shoes by getting them all wet when it rains on the way home. Plus my running shoes dry faster so they are usually dry for the ride to work in the morning.
I’m really hooked on bicycle commuting and even rain won’t stop me. It’s been great fun and I’m still very much enjoying the daily rides. In addition to the rain gear I updated some of my other gear as well, but I’ll save that for another post so check back soon.
- Bicycle commuters: what are your rules for the road? (guardian.co.uk)
- Infographic: Number of Bicycle Commuters Skyrockets (gas2.org)
- Commute by Bicycle (bipedonabicycle.wordpress.com)
- Biking to work – where only the strong survive (philly.com)
- rainy morning minimalism (annienygma.com)