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Bicycles post

In a comment on my introductory post, [personal profile] foxfirefey suggested I post something about how I manage commuting all winter long in a rainy climate.

I replied that ha-ha-ha, I mostly just get wet, but that's not as flip an answer as it seems.

I live and commute in Portland, Oregon USA. It's a city well known for its gray, rainy climate. One of the FAQs of my relatively new bike-commuting life was, "Wow, it's wet out there. You gonna ride?"

Well, yeah. Here's what I've discovered about cycle-commuting in a less-than-San-Diego climate:
  • There are a lot of rainy days here, but that doesn't mean each of them is rainy from start to finish: I've only actually been drenched five times in an entire fall, winter, and early spring of 100% bike commuting
  • Rain gear is for wusses. I'm kidding. Rain gear suitable for bike-riding is actually just for thinner women than I am, so I never bought any because I couldn't find any to fit.
  • Clothes I'd wear to wait for a bus in the rain are mostly perfectly okay for riding a bike in the rain
  • Fenders are the Portland cyclist's very best friend ever
  • Rainboots, aka wellies or galoshes, work fine on flat pedals. I don't clip in or anything fancy like that
  • What I can't keep dry, I try to insure will dry quickly. Translation: synthetic fabric trousers and tights
  • My computer monitors at work can dry my Skechers in, like, half an hour
  • Almost no bike light is too bright, and almost no number of them too many, for commuting in the dark, reflective, rainy city streets
  • It really sucks to wear cotton on a rainy day. Especially corduroy. Don't do that anymore.
  • Merino wool keeps you warm even when it's wet. All the rumors are true. I'm nuts about the stuff
  • If I were riding more than four or five miles each way, all of the above would be subject to serious reconsideration, but being a little damp for half an hour isn't gonna kill me

Basically, rain--at least Portland style rain--isn't that big of a deal. I regret all the years I didn't take up bike-riding for fear of it. But a lot of people really are fair-weather riders, and that gives rain-riding a big advantage: sometimes on a rainy day, I have the whole place to myself.

This entry is cross-posted from DarkEmeralds on Dreamwidth.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 17th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
I've found pretty much the same - anything you would wear to walk in the rain works pretty well for riding in the rain. Leather shoes work great too, and just give them a quick wipe off when you get to work. Pants just inevitably get wet unless you have rain pants on, but they rarely get wet enough that they won't dry in a half hour. And I find that often on "rainy days", it usually rains in the middle of the day, or in the evening, and not when I'm going to and from work. Those days when you do get caught in a downpour? There's a coffee shop or pub practically every other block in the inner part of the city, and a heater waiting for you at home :) I still prefer it to sitting in traffic on a bus. In general, I think it's just one of those things that seems much worse than it is until you try it, and then you realize, "oh, this isn't so bad." In fact, sometimes I kind of like riding in a light drizzle, it can be refreshing.

The only thing I might disagree with is the lights. As a fellow bike rider, I find many other cyclists' lights to be distracting (like lights on helmets which move all over the place), blinding and they make it harder for me to see where I'm going and what's going on around me. I agree with you that lights are important, and it's important to be seen on the roads, but I *definitely* think there's a too bright and too many. Much like fenders, it's not just about yourself, it's also a courtesy to other riders (fenders because otherwise you spray everyone behind you). You just have to find the right balance. If nothing else, they should start making LED lights with brightness settings so you can turn them up when you're out on the highway with no street lights or anything, and then down when you're in the city with other people around.
Mar. 17th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Indeed!
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. On consideration, I think you're quite right about the lights. I've just bought and applied a set of these spoke reflectors, and they're excellent. They are absolutely not yet marketed in the US, nor for bicycles at all (they're designed for wheelchairs and I'm not even sure how I found them!), but somebody should get on that, because they work and they look REALLY COOL.
Mar. 17th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Indeed!
Oh, interesting! I remember when I was little, I used to have these little plastic balls that would clip onto the spokes, and slide up and down as the wheels went around - they were pretty cool, and if you made them reflective, they'd be both useful and entertaining :)
Mar. 18th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Indeed!
oh you can get the little plastic balls at fred meyer! i bought them as birthday party favors for milo's 5th bday, when he got his bike. but we quickly took them off. they're a lot more annoying than i remember from childhood. i've got some if you want them ;)

reflectors on the other hand, are very good indeed.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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