Tag Archives: rain

Fashion Over Function

Perhaps a flowing white skirt was not the smartest outfit choice for a wet and windy day, but sometimes fashion trumps function, and this morning I wanted to wear a flowing white skirt, dammit.

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I began second-guessing my choice as the lake winds whipped the skirt against Betty’s grimy rack and fender, but by that time there was no turning back.

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In a nod to function, here is my head and eye protective gear that rarely makes it into photos.

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By the end of the day, the hem of my skirt was lightly soiled here and there, but nothing terribly noticeable from a distance.  The real danger was the chocolate cake I enjoyed with lunch, crumbs of which inevitably got smushed on my lap.

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Regardless, riding my bike, eating chocolate cake and wearing a flowing white skirt all made me happy, so I consider the dry cleaning bill worth it.  :-)

Score one for fashion.

{I picked this skirt up from a Paris thrift store for 2 euros.  See it styled for summer here.}

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Wool and Leather in the Rain

This evening I had a dark ride home in light rain.  I was caught without my raincoat or any other special rain accessories, but my normal outfit worked well.

My wool trench coat kept me warm and dry.

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My leather boots served the same purpose for my feet, plus sported a reflective strap for extra visibility.

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My beloved bag was unfazed by the wet weather, thanks to dark leather and pre-treatment with Cadillac Shield Spray.

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My Brooks saddle was protected by me for the ride, but got a bit wet while I took pictures.  I know some people baby their leather saddles, but mine is holding up well, so I’m not too worried.

DSCF4171resized For the most part, light rain does not bother me much.  And soon rain will be replaced by snow!

P.S. Really hard for me to avoid a November Rain reference in this post.  :)

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Summer Rain

I was rained on during my bike commute today, and I did not mind at all.

Heading home, I took a different route than usual and soon happened upon a garden.  I pulled over to walk the paths and enjoy the thousands of roses.  As I said goodbye to the flowers and set out toward the lakefront trail for my 7-mile ride home, rain started falling.  I briefly considered ducking into a cafe, but the heady smell of fresh summer rain urged me on.  While tourists and beach-goers hustled for cover, I cycled on with a smile.

The shower was short-lived and by the time I got home, my light summer dress had completely dried.  No rain gear necessary.

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Saturday Night Sleet

Here I am Saturday night after biking home in rain and sleet with Mr. Dottie.  The streets were not slippery yet, so the ride was not so bad.  :-)

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My Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket continues to perform well.  Being able to put the hood under my helmet is a great help.  Today the weather is super cold, dry and sunny, which I generally prefer, but sometimes a ride in the freezing rain can be invigorating.

P.S. Who watched the Golden Globes last night?  Love Tina and Amy!

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Fashion Friday: Riding in the Rain

Overcast and rainy skies have surrounded me lately.  Much of my riding in Amsterdam took place under damp mist and yesterday a heavy rain fell in Chicago, causing me to tuck Coco in my office for the night and take the L train home.  Alas, I was caught without a coat to fend off the sudden cold and rain.  If I could do my Thursday morning preparations over again (with dream clothes/bike collection), I would opt for something like this European-inspired rain outfit.  Why not, right?  :)

I hope all of you either have been staying dry or enjoying the wet weather in style!

{Collage details here}

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Caught in the Rain

Summer is notorious for sneak attack storms and I am always caught unprepared.

Such was the case on Saturday.  In the morning, I met my friends Chika and Holly for a free and super fun Bollywood dance class outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The sun blazed on us for two hours of dancing, but as soon as we got on our bikes, the sky darkened ominously.  The pouring rain soon followed.  Luckily, Chika lives nearby and offered us refuge.  She even invited Betty Foy inside.

The elevator was a bit of a squeeze, but we managed.

Once tucked inside, we waited out the rain with some delicious gin, among other treats that Chika kindly supplied.

After a couple of hours, the sun was back to blazing and Holly and I set out for home.

Unfortunately, I did not have any of the cool rain accessories that Trisha posted about on Friday, but my dress and shoes (and Betty’s poor leather saddle) were all dry by the time I set out.

Overall, I was happy for the storm because it lead to some quality girl-bonding time.  You know what they say about clouds and silver linings!

Who else has gotten caught in the rain lately?

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May’s Critical Lass Ride

I missed the past couple of Critical Lass rides, so I was happy to catch up with the group for May’s ride.  Coolest bicycling group in Chicago, for sure, including a couple of baby-bicyclists.  We started in Roscoe Village and enjoyed a leisurely ride through Lakeview and Lincoln Park, ending at a Mexican restaurant for margaritas.

Many thanks to our fearless leader Ash, pictured first below.

We got rained on a little during the ride, but hail and lightening waited until we were safely at the restaurant and finished by the time we departed for our rides home.  The goddesses were on our side.

Join or keep up with Chicago’s Critical Lass Rides on Facebook.

 

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Appreciating Late Fall

The past two days have been rainy and super windy, so I’ve taken public transportation. The L train is no fun compared to my bikes, but I’m grateful for its convenience when needed. The combination of bicycling and access to great public transportation is what allows me to live without a car

Happily, today is sunny and dry, although 39 degrees – brrr.

I’ll not complain about fall weather too much, because I know what’s coming.

Gotta remember to appreciate the present.  Happy Friday!

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A Chicago Welcome Home Storm

This morning I was excited to jump back on my bike after a week’s vacation in North Carolina.  I set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the sun shining down on me.

A couple of miles into my ride, the air began to look strangely green.  Suddenly, all at once, the wind picked up massively, rain poured, lightening struck and thunder pounded.  A small branch fell down behind me.  It was freaky!

I was on a quiet neighborhood road and I started riding toward a bigger street in hopes of finding shelter at a coffee shop.  I didn’t get far before I had to dismount and scurry to the sidewalk.  I stood next to a wind-blocking building for about five minutes, getting soaked.  (Later I read the wind was up to 75 MPH.)  When the wind and rain did not let up, I scurried down the sidewalk to the end of the block, where I found a bank lobby to duck into (the bank was closed but the lobby was open for the ATM).  There I watched the downpour and lightening for 30 loooong minutes.

When the rain let up slightly, I decided to bike the 2 miles back home, drop off my bike, change clothes and take the L train to work.  I did not want to ride all the way to work downtown in the lightening.  I finally arrived at the office at 10:00 – a not-so-great way to start back after vacation.  Luckily, I have understanding co-workers.

I’ll take this morning’s “adventure” as a harsh reminder to CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE LEAVING.  Also, as a WELCOME HOME, SUCKER, from Chicago.

At least I’m not the only one who got stuck in the storm.  Anyone else get caught by surprise lately?  Nah, I’m sure you’re all way too smart for that.  :)

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Quick-Drying Outfits

For summer rainstorms, a quick-drying outfit is more important than a good raincoat. Who wants to wear a coat when it’s so hot outside? The sweat and humidity is worse than the rain. Ick.

I was wearing this outfit below last week when unexpected rain hit just as I left work. Five minutes into my ride, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I was pretty wet, not quite soaked, but by the time I got home 20 minutes later, I was completely dry. Very impressive quick-drying performance from my Patagonia skirt and top. I looked at the tag and they’re made of polyester. Boy, that fabric has come a long way since the 70’s.

As I set out for work yesterday morning, a sprinkle turned into a downpour, soaking me. I had to wring out my shirt after I locked my bike. Unfortunately, I was wearing Lululemon yoga capri pants and top. Despite laying them out to dry all day, they were still damp (and mildewy) at the end of the day. Whatever fabric those are made of is good for yoga movement, terrible for bike commuting in the rain. I chose to wear my office skirt and blouse for the ride home.

My shoes and riding gloves are still drying, too. I should stick to my Keen commuter sandals instead of regular sneakers for wet summer weather.

Funny how I’ve been bike commuting for three years and I’m still learning this stuff. ‘Cause I keep forgetting. :)

Who else forgoes typical rain gear in the summer? What kinds of clothes and accessories have you found best for quick-drying?

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Little Miss Muddy: Coco in the Rain

Trisha showed you her Little Miss Messy coffee-stained Abici and now I’ll show you my Little Miss Muddy Velorbis. On Wednesday I rode Coco, my Velorbis, in the rain for the first time.  I discovered that the gorgeous cream-colored frame shows mud quite clearly.  I’m not good at keeping my bikes clean, but I definitely have to wipe Coco down after the rain.

Although Coco’s aesthetics suffer in the rain, her performance is top notch.  The substantial fenders, chain case, and internal brakes are perfect for keeping me clean and stopping on a dime.  The super cushy Fat Frank tires are a big bonus and make Coco the best among my bikes for riding in the rain.  Normally, I feel paranoid riding on slick roads and through puddles, but the stability and comfort of the fat tires made me feel completely secure. I love those tires.

As for myself, I dealt with the rain fine.  I wore my Patagonia trench rain coat (not pictured below), which caught most of the drizzle.  My wool tights and tweed skirt dried quickly and my helmet protected my hair.

So that’s it. I made it through a 30 minute drizzly bike commute a-okay.  By the time I got to work, I was a little bit more in love with Coco than before.

What aspects of your bike help (or not) when riding in the rain?

 

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Unexpected Thunderstorms

Last weekend a friend asked me and Trisha what we do about thunderstorms, and we both agreed that we simply do not bike in them. However, that is a simplified, partially true statement. The full explanation is that I choose not to bike in the morning if, at the time of leaving, hard rain is actively falling or the forecast all but guarantees thunderstorms. I tend to ignore vague forecasts for the possibility of thunderstorms in the evening, because so many times when I started bike commuting, I was tricked into not biking when the weather was fine.

Which is how I now end up biking home in thunderstorms more than I would like.

My commute is long enough to give the weather ample time to change (30 minutes) but short enough that I feel okay pushing through bad weather. I wait out storms with thunder and lightening, but the most common scenario has me leaving work just before the sky opens up, and once I’m already on my bike, only the worst conditions could stop me. Otherwise, I push on through cautiously but assertively.

Such was the case last night.

Photo from last year. Imagine this, but dark.

Leaving a fundraiser benefit for my employer, the weather seemed fine, although the night sky was too dark to see clouds. Only after I biked half a mile did the rain suddenly start pouring. Thunder and lightening soon followed.

I was wearing an elegant black ensemble: a silk dress, blazer, tights and dress shoes.  I had a raincoat tied around my waist because my new dress became way too short on the bike (more about that later) and for visibility, not because I anticipated rain.  After the storm started, I considered pulling over to put the raincoat on, but did not want to lose momentum, so I continued all the way home as I was.  Of course, by the end of my commute, the storm had calmed to a drizzle. Arriving home, drenched and drowned-rat-esque, I immediately hung my clothes to dry and took a hot shower.  This morning, both the clothes and I are fine. My Po Campo bag, which is advertised only as water resistant, amazingly kept all of my contents safe and dry.

There is a lot of talk on bike blogs and forums about gear like rain pants, ponchos, etc.  Those accessories are important in some situations (like if I were on my way to the event), but if you’re going straight home, there is nothing terrible about getting caught in the rain in your regular clothes. I do not want newer bike commuters to worry that they are not properly prepared for bicycling until they acquire all that stuff.

I am grateful that I had my Planet Bike Superflash.  Powerful lights are always important when riding in the rain, especially at night.

Somebody tell me that I’m not the only one with bad luck when it comes to getting stuck in the rain. What do you do when unexpected thunderstorms hit?

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A Skirt for Public Transportation

As Chicago experiences the rainiest April in 50 years, my thunderstorm-averse and frankly unmotivated self has been taking the L train this week. A colleague yesterday asked if my bike was okay because she saw me walking.

I’m determined to bike tomorrow no matter what (probably) because I’m going stir crazy. In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of this rare public transportation time to wear the few outfits I have that simply do not work on a bike, which usually sit untouched in the back of my closet.

For example, this skirt I wore today that does not allow me to lift my leg any higher than shown below.

Normally, I would not buy a skirt that constricts my ability to cycle, but I made an exception for this mint condition Marni skirt from Salvation Army for $2. Yeah, that’s like $798 off retail price! Looking at this photo, I realize that the entire outfit is thrifted, except the bamboo tights from Trisha.

In other news, the cherry blossoms still have not bloomed in Chicago, which so far is one month later than last year. All these April showers better bring some May flowers!!!!

And finally, happy, happy, happy birthday to our very own Trisha! I’m saving the big b-day post until after I document whatever trouble we get in together this weekend, but for now here is a beautiful flashback to T’s birthday party last year.

Smashing, love!

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April Showers

April showers are officially here. As winter slowly recedes, the season of rain begins. Unless you live in Portland, in which case it never ended. :)

My trusty rain trench and wool combo

Although I haven’t experienced rain since the snow started months ago, rain is no stranger to the LGRAB world. Check out the 4 pages of posts we’ve written about the subject, under the tag “rain.”

For more direct guidance, there’s Trisha’s how-to advice for riding in the rain, a quick video I made showing how easy it is to prep for rain, and my “April Showers” post from one year ago.

And if you don’t like riding in rain, remember my mantra. Rain: at least it’s not hail.

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Nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain

Oh yes, I’m pulling out the Guns ‘N Roses. This is my last chance to use the reference for a year, since tomorrow is the last day of November.

Today’s rain led me to take the Lakefront Trail. Even though the route adds another 15 rainy minutes to my commute, riding among cars in the rain frays my nerves. On the bike path I don’t mind the rain at all, especially when there’s a tail wind.

As usual, wool and boots kept me toasty warm. These super windy pictures are actually from the rainy day last week. The bike was different, but the outfit was pretty much the same.

Anyone else care for an ’80’s MTV flashback? Gosh, I loved this video as a wee lass.

And so, as I roll through the wet, cold weather, I remember that nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain.

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Freezing Rain

Today’s evening commute brought on freezing rain. Not the most fun weather, but not insurmountable. There was no ice on the road, so the only issue was staying dry and warm. A tweed skirt, long wool winter coat, knee-high leather boots, earmuffs and huge mittens did the job admirably. A thick leather Coach purse in my basket kept my belongings dry. As long as the rain is mild to moderate, this kind of set up works well – no raincoat and waterproof panniers needed.

The photo below shows why I hate to ride downtown in the rain at night. With the wet pavement reflections, I doubt my bike lights and reflectors bring much attention from drivers, which is why I choose routes with as few cars as possible during times like these.

I’m grateful that Chicago does not have a long rainy season. Soon this rain will turn into snow, which – although bringing its own host of problems – is more enjoyable to me.

{For another take on riding in the rain, read about my friend Elizabeth’s wet commute on Bike Commuters.}

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Scottish Cycle Chic in Chicago

Jennifer is a bike commuter in Edinburgh, Scotland and an LGRAB reader. She owns both a WorkCycles Oma and a Pashley. When she mentioned that she was taking a vacation in Chicago, I was excited to suggest that we get together.

On Wednesday, we met up for a few beers with my friends Patty, Brian, Elizabeth and Dean (all bikey people, incidentally). Then yesterday Jennifer and I spent the day together with Oma and Betty. This turned out to be quite an adventure!

After a hearty Mexican lunch, we set out for the Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier via the Lakefront Trail. The wind was exceptionally fierce, crashing waves onto the path all around us, and the rain unexpectedly picked up during the ride, but it was still great fun.

I assume this mounted police officer was there to make sure no one tried anything stupid, like surfing.

Our raincoats mostly protected us. When we got to the theater my tights dried quickly and Jennifer cleverly let her long tunic top become a dress, while her jeans hung to dry in the coat check room. Then we warmed up in the pub over whiskey and Baileys before settling in for a great production of Romeo and Juliet.

After the play, we walked along Navy Pier a bit as the wind whipped around us, speculating as to how difficult our journey home would be, since the tail wind we enjoyed on the way there would be a head wind.

We walked over to the ferris wheel for a ride but it was closed, apparently due to the high winds.

As we figured, the head wind was killer and the 7-mile ride home was slow, cold and dark – but pretty funny! We could not help laughing at the absurdity of the situation: the trail was deserted and the two of us, in our dresses and on our upright bikes, were the only ones intrepid enough to brave the weather.  

Undeterred, we swung by my place to pick up Mr. Dottie and continued our ride to the Lincoln Square neighborhood, where we enjoyed dinner at a very lively German restaurant. Schnitzel, mashed potatoes and steins of beer work wonders to warm a body.

The rain picked up full force for our late ride home and poor Jennifer’s jeans got soaked all over again. Luckily, she was just an L train ride away from the warmth and comfort of her hotel room.

Many thanks to Jennifer for being great company and such a good sport! What could have been grounds for complaining instead became a fun, invigorating, laughter-filled adventure. ‘Cause cycling ladies are cool like that. :)

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Video: Bike Commuting in the Rain

This is not a full how-to video.  I just made a quick little overview of me leaving for work yesterday while it was raining.  Read our full rain how-to here.

How do you ride in the rain?

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Bike Commuting in a Severe Storm

A severe storm hit Chicago unexpectedly late yesterday afternoon. Hurricane-force winds up to 77 mph, torrential rain and hail blew out windows in the Sears Tower and downed trees and powerlines. Guess where I was when this happened? Yup, riding my bike home from work.

When I heard about the approaching storm, I decided to leave work a little early to beat the storm home. Soon after I set out, rain began falling. The further I rode, the heavier the rain and winds became. I could feel a little hail. Stubbornly I pushed on – soooo close to home, I kept telling myself. Half-way home the wind and rain were so strong, I had to slow considerably. Then I rode on the pedestrian-free sidewalk in case the wind blew me over. Two-thirds of the way home, the wind and rain became literally impossible to ride in. I realized that trying to ride my bike was pretty crazy and dangerous. My stubborn nature is usually an asset when it comes to biking around Chicago, but sometimes it makes me stupid. As I locked my bike outside a (conveniently located and cozy) pub, lightening and thunder hit so closely that I screamed.

Safely in the pub, I commiserated with some other stranded folks, emptied the water out of my shoes and rung out my skirt and shirt, and ordered a pint. Nearly an hour later the rain and wind calmed down enough for me to ride the final 1.5 miles home. That’s when I took these photos. A similar storm hit around 10 pm but I was tucked safely inside.

The moral of this story is: don’t try to beat a severe storm home or at least have a cozy pub to duck into if necessary.

I have lots more to say about this day, which included the Bike to Work Week rally, David Byrne’s bicycle forum and hanging out with bikey friends.

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Dottie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Commute

Wanna hear my story? Don’t worry – no dotties or bicycles were harmed in the making of this commute.

Monday and Tuesday I had to work at a satellite office on the west side instead of my office downtown. From my starting point the satellite office is four miles straight west on one street, Belmont Avenue. See the yellow line highlighted on the bike map below? That’s it.

This should have been a simple commute. However, as shown on the map, I had to cross a river and an expressway. No side streets cross both, only arterial streets. I avoid arterial streets due to the heavy and relatively fast traffic. I tweeted for route advice and the general consensus (thanks!) was to avoid Belmont Avenue. After studying the bike map, I decided on a circuitous route to stay on quiet neighborhood streets most of the way, riding on arterial streets only to cross the river and the expressway.

The ride started fine and I crossed the river fairly easily, although mixing it up with the fast traffic got my blood pumping. Back on the neighborhood street, I rolled along happily for a couple of miles, but when I tried to cross the expressway, I kept coming upon dead ends. I had ridden too far and backtracked down several side streets – all dead ends – until finding the big street again.

Time for the next obstacle. Traffic entering and exiting the enormous expressway is fast, aggressive and not looking for bicyclists, so I cautiously road on the sidewalk until I safely crossed over. Not only did I ride on the sidewalk, I also went against a red light. I saw that no one was coming and knew that as soon as the “walk” signal appeared, the cars waiting to my left would turn right onto the expressway with absolutely no regard for lil’ ol’ me. Something about expressway ramps makes drivers insane.

After crossing I had to pull over to get my wits about me. I couldn’t remember which side street I was supposed to take next and called Mr. Dottie for directions, grumbling about traffic and the time. Soon I found the side street that I thought would take me straight to my destination.

Wrong!

The street suddenly ended and dumped me back on the arterial street. By this time I was already late for work, so I sucked it up and pedaled as fast as I could with traffic, an activity not for the faint of heart. Also not for the faint of heart: stopping in the middle of an arterial with no turn lane while waiting to turn left.

Finally, I arrived at my destination – stressed, sweaty and 15 minutes late. But alive!

For the ride home I decided to take a more direct route down a nearby arterial, Diversey Avenue. This route was simple and better than the morning nightmare, but called for some serious vehicular cycling, moving fast and taking the right lane. I was the only bicycle out there, making me long for companions, regardless of whether they stopped at the red lights. This street is busy and relatively fast, but has a bike lane for part of the way and is a marked bike route on the Chicago map.

Just as I was thinking positively about the route, two SUV’s almost hit me while I was crossing the river, one right after the other. They were stopped in traffic in the left turning lane, I was going straight in the right lane and they did not look before impatiently gassing it out of their lane and straight into my path. That was it for me – bike car traffic city sensory overload for the day.

The next morning I took the Belmont Avenue bus, which carried me straight to work with no stress. I stared out the window and read Anna Karenina. I did not regret my decision.

The city needs to do some serious work to make safe east-west routes, because the current set up is absurd. Lucky for me, I can now return to my usual commute downtown.

After I returned home from my bus commute, I set out on my bike to a board meeting a few miles away. En route, rain started pouring. I pushed on until thunder and lightening showed up, then I admitted defeat, turned around and attended my meeting over the phone. Sigh.

So this brief period of time will go down as the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad commute. I guess everyone has bad commutes sometimes.

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