Riding a bike makes you feel like you’re 12 again, but riding in the rain makes you want to jump in puddles.
I didn’t ride in the rain for years, but as my aversion to taking bus has grown over time, I’ve embraced riding in the rain. Today I discovered that my rain kit is complete. The secret is gear, rain-ready gear. See my tips for staying dry on wet days below.
Essential Rain Gear – I’ve listed these in order of importance, but they’re all essential for a totally dry ride.
- Rain Jacket: Any GoreTex or waterproof shell will do. I prefer Patagonia Women’s Rain Shadow Jacket. It doesn’t have pit zips or any such frills, but it’s lightweight, totally waterproof, and sleek.
- Rain Pants: Today was the maiden voyage of my new Club Convertible rain pants by Portland-based, Showers Pass. I used to ride through the rain in leggings and change into dry pants at the office, but rain pants are a much better, although far less flattering, solution. The Showers Pass rain pants are black with a hit of reflective for a nice combination of subtly and safety. They’re higher waisted than any pants should be – they actually reach my belly button – but that turns out to be a good thing on a bike. They’re a wide straight leg – their Rider Pant is far slimmer – but their zippers and Velcro make them easy to get on/off and synch down for riding. They’re super lightweight, completely waterproof, and while I’m not into logos, seeing their “showers pass” language on rain-covered legs is reassuring.
- Rain Shoes: Bean Boots or bust! Made in Maine, Bean Boots are an American classic with a snug fit and versatile look you can rock with dresses, denim, and foul weather gear.
- Protect Your Pony (if you have one): I usually wash and dry my hair and then let it flow under my helmet. A simple brush-out at work does the trick, but wet hair is harder to resuscitate. So put your hair in a ponytail and tuck it into your jacket for dry keeping while you ride. Then proceed with your normal grooming ritual at the office.
- Make-up Later: Unless it’s absolutely pouring, any helmet will keep the rain off your face. Helmets with a visor probably do an even better job. But, a few rain drops will make contact with your faccio, so apply mascara when you get to work, lest you look like a basket case upon arrival.
- Mind the Gap: Where your pants hit your shoes and your cuffs hit your gloves, water may flow. Take care to synch your pants over your boots and your cuffs over your gloves.
- Lookout: Everything is murky in the rain, including you and your two-wheeled friend. Wear something reflective, turn on your blinkies, and use exagerated hand signals when riding in the rain.
- Caution, the Road is Wet: Ride *slowly* in the rain. Wet roads are slick which means you (and everyone else!) need more time to top or slow down. Pay particular attention to the front right tire of nearby automobiles and if you do slide a bit, try to relax and ride it out.
- Just in Case: Toss an extra pair of socks and underwear in your bag, just in case. I’ve never had to use them, but it’s nice to know they’re there.
- Hydrate: Catch a drop or two of rain on your tongue and remember what it was like when we used to jump in puddles.
Read more Ride Like You Want To posts here.