April Showers

Raindrops, say hello to bicycle.  You two are old friends by now.  With bicycle today are her sidekicks: helmet, lights, saddle cover and fenders.  For today’s extreme adventure with you both, I’m fortified with a tweed skirt, tights, boots and trench coat.  With these precautions, I will manage to arrive perfectly presentable for my 9 a.m. meeting.

Dear reader, if you are new to riding in the rain, but would like to try, check out our how-to guide. For more examples of how rain and bikes can go together, click on the “rain” tag below.  If you are an old pro, feel free to leave your tips and words of encouragement :)

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28 thoughts on “April Showers

  1. Melina says:

    “Hi Dottie’s bicycle!” I am having a love affair with this seat cover! What a perfect post for me to read, it won’t stop raining here in Seattle. What else is new :)

  2. David says:

    I’m up here in Madison, getting the same wave of weather I imagine. I’m getting tired of this rain. It was soooo nice for awhile, now this stuff. I think it’s clear tomorrow.

    I started out in moderate rainfall leaving work today. Thankfully there was a break less than halfway. I didn’t dress warm enough, and my feet and hands were very cold. A quite strong headwind made my time worse. Sounds bad. But I’ll be back on in the morning.

    • Dottie says:

      My hands were cold, too. Tomorrow is supposed to be light snow mixed with light rain! Goodness gracious. The weekend is back to sunny in the 70’s though. The weather is confused.

      • Dave says:

        Our weather here has been schizo since Spring started – it’s been on and off dumping rain and sun about every hour for the last 2 weeks, and we’ve had 3-4 days of torrential downpour all day, with 30-60mph wind gusts. Today of course it’s bright and sunny, and both my wife and I are at home sick :-/

  3. Steven Vance says:

    I wear black Dickies quite often now – they don’t show bike grease, look moderately business-friendly, and are extremely durable (I’ve had other pants wear because of the saddle).

    I rode them to and from work today in the rain. Since they are mostly polyester, they don’t soak as much water as cotton. They were dry soon after arriving at work. However, I forgot to cover my saddle with a grocery bag so I had a wet butt on the way home.

  4. Aww so cute! I love the helmet!

  5. katie says:

    I live in Atlanta, where either it doesn’t rain all, or it pours down cats and dogs to no end (drizzle doesn’t exist). My very first time, I was pretty scared due to memories of slipping and falling down whenever I rode through a puddle when I was a child. But actually, it isn’t too bad. I don’t feel that the bike really slips around too much; the only deal is that you have to brake a little bit sooner than usual.
    My “commute” to class literally takes about 5 or 10 minutes, so I ride my bike as-is, meaning no fenders, etc. (anyways, I technically ride a track bike). I just don my favorite rain jacket, waterproof shoes, and off I go!

    But ideally, we might all want to don this: http://www.nubrella.com/

    After the ride, I just dry off the bike, and spray some lube on all the sensitive bits. (I should probably do more than that though)

    • David says:

      Katie – I’m not sure about that nubrella. I just can’t imagine getting a clear view, once it fogs up and water droplets are everywhere. Kind of like how you can’t wear goggles in the rain.

      I think what you need is a big visor to keep rain out of your face. I wear my hood under my helmet, and it does a good job of acting this way.

      • katie says:

        David – you’re right about the fog. Didn’t think about that! I guess you’d need the umbrella + some sort of windshield wiper, although that = distraction we don’t need!
        Oh yes, I also employ the hood-under-the-helmet setup. I do like your big visor idea though. Today I just happened to be wearing a hat (something I usually don’t wear) while riding in the rain, which reminded me of how a little addition like that can improve my experience greatly!

        • Dave says:

          Wearing a hat with a brim makes a big difference as to how much rain hits your face. My wool flat cap that I wear most of the time cuts way down on the amount of water hitting me in the eyes especially.

  6. If I know that I am going to be riding in the rain, I like to take the Pashley. That bike is magically impervious to the elements, and can brake safely while riding through puddles. I think that knowing how your bike handles in the rain – what you can do just as before, what to avoid – is crucial to feeling comfortable.

  7. Dave says:

    I find that just dressing sensibly is the way to go. In most rain, I can just wear my normal clothes and I dry off pretty quickly once I get to work. A wool hat keeps my head dry.

    If I need to arrive completely dry, I just wear a poncho over my normal clothes. The one I have goes over the handlebars, so it keeps my legs dry almost all the way down to my shoes. Wear leather shoes (or some other water-resistant material) and just wipe them off when you get to work. I rode to work last week this way in a torrential downpour, and aside from my hat (which was soaked) I looked like I hadn’t been outside at all.

    Really, I think the biggest thing about riding in the rain is to realize it’s not as bad as you think it is. At least in Portland (which is known for its rain), it rarely rains really hard, it’s usually more misty or drizzly, and in that case, you really don’t get very wet. Just try it a couple of times and see how it goes. Of course, fenders and a chain guard/case help *a lot*.

    • David says:

      Dave – length of commute matters a lot too. In a 12mi ride, you get pretty darn wet with a light rain. Over that commute, water just finds a way of seeping into everything! Arggh. At least I have a shower and change of clothes at work. :)

      • Dave says:

        Yeah, that’s true. Mine’s about 4.5 miles, and I usually do pretty well, but twice that and I might be pretty wet by the time I got there.

  8. Scott says:

    I removed the synthetic lining from all of my dress pants. I found that they breathe better and dry out faster. Yesterday, for instance, I rode to the other side of the Loop at lunch to register for a class at the Goethe Institut. On the way back to the office it started raining and my pants got a little wet. But by the time the elevator ride was over, they were completely dry.

  9. JazzBoy says:

    For my 15 Km (one way) trip I use a rain poncho which keeps me dry from the knees up.
    I put it over the handlebars and usually the wind will hold it there as I move. Of course, when rain is coming at an angle due to the wind, the water finds a way to soak my boots and lower legs. I think the best rain outfit would be a set of breathable waterproofs (goretex jacket and trousers plus some kind of shoe protection…) but that is only justified, in my opinion, if one often rides in the rain.

  10. We need some of your rain up here.

  11. E A says:

    hardest for me to find pants for the commute. hate wet, cold legs!

    rain pants either are waterproof but don’t breathe well OR breathable and windproof but soak through within minutes.

    any suggestions for pants/fabrics always welcome. I also don’t like wet feet.

  12. Brendan says:

    Dottie, many of the comments to this post have been from men. I’d love to hear your thoughts on stylish, weather-resistant clothes for men. I’ve been looking for suitable clothes for a while, but nothing does my Velorbis justice in terms of aesthetics!

  13. Milo says:

    Couldn’t find where I’d found: ‘Where’s Oma?’ so, April showers apart, here goes:

    I, too, have been missing seeing Oma, the effortless and regal elegance of the bike has me hooked. Now I’ve just found a UK site with 8 minutes of docu showing English girls in a Northern town called Darlington. They ride, and persuade others to ride, ‘Dutch’ bikes. What struck me immediately is that focussed, professionally-done film clips (8 minutes) bring home what a thousand still photos cannot: the sheer practicality and undimmed beauty of sit-up, step-thru bicycles, and the women who ride them. Until I saw this video I hadn’t understood why so many women remain indifferent to bikes. If bikes and cycling are seen as mucky, sweaty, inelegant, masculine and dangerous, women will stay away in their millions. Why should that matter? It matters because if this beautiful and profoundly sane movement is to spread it will do so because of the women. Bicycle-evangelization (to coin a term) cannot come from men (forgive me Mikael!). It’s not for me to define roles, but if a critical mass of women integrate cycling into their daily lives as a fun, fulfilling and supremely practical thing to do, then life will change for the better for most people on the planet.

    So what I’m suggesting is that Dottie, Trisha, Adrienne and friends might organize to do a professionally-filmed clip on practical, urban cycling (hand-held fun videos suggest cycling is wobbly, adolescent and maybe dangerous). The British video I saw is called Beauty and the Bike/Cycling UK, was filmed by the Darlington Media group in hd and runs for 8 minutes. You’ll have to get past those Northern British accents.


  14. I keep a full wardrobe and ironing board in my office. Shirts and socks are ferried home for washing in my backpack, and suits are dry cleaned once every few months and transported by car (at least until my custom box-bike is made). I have 4 or 5 bikes to choose from, depending on my mood, and will cycle in regular or clothes or the full racing kit, depending on the bike. The best thing I ever bought was a kevlar reinforced gore-tex jacket with a hood that fits under my helmet. You need something to lift your spirits when facing a rainy commute.

  15. darren says:

    today i had to leave my poor foldie in the office cuz its rained donkeys just before quitting time! arrrgh… and the only reason i didn’t ride home was because i still don’t have a set of fenders. i myself don’t mind getting wet, its the road spray that gets to me…. you won’t believe how difficult it is to find nice fenders for 20″ wheels here.

    note to self: acquire them fenders by hook or by crook over the weekend.

  16. townmouse says:

    I have to admit, I struggle with riding in the rain. The rain seems to be extra wet here in the south west of Scotland and it can go on for hours, days even. Maybe a rain cape would do it but the combination of wet, cold, fogged glasses and road spray just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately my schedule is flexible enough that I can generally wait it out. My one tip (for after the rain) is cycling in wellingtons – our roads flood a lot, and it means you can get through the worst puddles without getting drenched from the knees down

  17. Michelle B. says:

    I have a bright yellow bike poncho, I haven’t quite figured out how to get it to stay in place correctly so I may have to do some adjustments. My problem is when you wear a poncho that is that big I get pushed around by wind so easily and it makes my ride even longer. My fully fendered bike (and mudflaps) keeps my legs pretty dry. I still get hit with spray from cars, but I think waterproof pants would stop that. Once I get to work the bike parking is covered so I never have to worry about a wet butt on my ride home.

  18. sara says:

    OK, thanks to Julian over at Totcycle, we now own his & her RAIN CHAPS!! Yes, it’s true and they are awesome– roll up in a small pack that you can carry anywhere, light, breathable, keep the top of your thighs dry (extended out over the knee= genius), etc. They were our big Christmas gift to each other. Romantic, huh?

    Check out Julian’s HILARIOUS post on his rain chaps here:

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