Singin’ in the Rain, By Myself

After sharing the Lakefront Trail on my Thursday evening commute with hundreds of cyclists, on Friday I counted a grand total of four. What could have caused such a drastic change? An alert that H1N1 is spread by breathing Lake Michigan air? A pack of geese standing guard and demanding shrubbery? Tornadoes? Nope, just rain. The place was so empty, I was able to take this geektastic picture of myself without embarrassment.

Drenched and Wind-blown

Drenched and Wind-blown

Granted, sometimes if it’s pouring out I will take the el train. And I know that some people don’t find it fun to ride in the rain. That’s totally understandable. But for all hundreds of them (minus four) to be pushed off their bikes by a little rain is surprising. Now I remember why I enjoy riding on rainy summer days – less traffic.

Rainy Skyline, Still Beautiful

Rainy Skyline, Still Beautiful

Rain is not such a big deal, I simply slow down and ride a bit more cautiously, like I used to do when I drove a car. The hazards are the same – slick roads, reduced braking power, deep puddles. It’s just that on a bike, you get wet. This is what one needs: full fenders – definitely. Rain coat. Gloves if it’s chilly. A plastic shopping bag to wrap your bag in. And that’s about it. Maybe rain pants and booties, though I don’t have any, if you can’t change your clothes when you arrive at your destination. That’s not so hard, is it? So I wonder what’s the hold up with almost all Chicago cyclists.

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8 thoughts on “Singin’ in the Rain, By Myself

  1. Nico says:

    I notice that you chose a bike which matches the water colour :)

  2. Carolyn says:

    We are getting lots of rain here too. It was a rainy and cold week for our Bike to Work week, but there seemed to be a lot of people out on their bikes. Hope we get some nicer weather soon though.

  3. Yep, lots of fair weather cyclists. I was one of those too, on Wednesday… and then it didn’t rain at all when I would have been riding. I’m working on riding whatever the conditions. Just think “what would a postal worker do?”.

  4. jOdy says:

    I love riding on rainy days. I don’t know if it’s just because there are so few people out in it or if it’s just getting a first hand look at the world repainted in a different way.

  5. Pete says:

    Nice to have the road to yourself on those rainy days; you’ve earned it. I’d say that the missing cyclists mostly consider riding to work as an event, like a picnic or a ball game. It can get called on account of rain, (or winter or whatever …..) You’ve long since made the assumption that the bike is the way work, outdoor conditions are just another factor to be managed.

    I love the notion that there are no bad days for biking, just less than optimal equipment. Freedom is being able to thumb your nose at the automobile dependancy no matter what the day is like.

    Years ago when people started marveling about my six mile commute through snow I had trouble explaining how unheroic the act seemed to me. Yes I had to get off and push the bike when the roads were really bad, yes I had to carry the bike when the drifts got too high, but I didn’t own a car, nor did I want to, yet still I had to get to work. Besides that I was riding most of the way … it was a lot faster and easier than walking.

    “How can you bike all that way in the snow?” they would ask.

    “I have a hat”, I would reply pointing to my hunter’s orange balaclava that really helped a lot to keep me warm. This didn’t explain my choice to ride in a way that anyone understood. I didn’t have other words to explain. In retrospect I guess I meant “I’m OK, I’ve taken care of my self, I am capable to manage my daily commute in these less than optimal conditions.”

    This year I too enjoyed a relatively cyclist free commute on “bike to work day” in the rain. But then I’ve enjoyed my everyday bike commutes to work for the most of the last 20 years.

    ya know, I do have a hat…

  6. Erich says:

    Ya know it’s funny, because I never minded riding in “poor” weather, and I never knew quite why I seemed to be one of the few. But spiderleggreen’s comment above makes it all perfectly clear to me now. I delivered mail for the Postal Service, on a walking route, until a few years ago. You actually get to the point where you don’t mind walking in snow, rain, or cold, since you can dress for it. Come to think of it, the only weather I really hate for cycling or delivering mail is muggy heat, because there’s no escaping that.

  7. Aaron says:

    I keep a shower cap in the pocket of my rain jacket to slip over my helmet if the rain gets intense. While water still runs off the helmet, it at least runs off only the outside, beyond the neck opening of the coat, rather than from the inside and down my neck.

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