Thursday, November 13, 2008

More tips for rainy-day bike commuting

From the News-Tribune (Tacoma, WA), 11.06.08:

Experts offer tips to survive riding in the rain
As Tory Grant slid into some rain gear, the manager of Tacoma's Old Town Bicycle confessed a little secret: It's hard for him to get motivated to go for a bike ride when the weather gets nasty.

He’s not alone. “You know, you hem and you haw for a couple of hours, then you finally do it,” Grant said. “But once you do it, it’s not that bad.” Whether riding for fitness or commuting, the bike doesn’t have to stay in the garage during the cold and rainy seasons. But cyclists who hit the road need to prepare for the outdoor conditions during the fall and winter months.

Here are some tips for winterizing yourself and your ride from local cycling experts...

On gray winter days, lights aren’t so much for seeing as being seen. Lights ($10 and more) are needed on the handle bars and on the seat stem so you can be seen from ahead and behind, Grant said. And don’t forget to keep your lights charged so they don’t fail you...

Eye protection
(Eye) protection ($20 and more) is a must in the winter to keep rain and road debris out of your eyes. “Some riders even use yellow lenses because they’ll help you see a little clearer,” he said.

Grant said a good riding jacket ($40 and more) is the most important item for riding in the wet and cold. Unlike a typical jacket, cycling jackets are longer in the back to, as he said, “keep your butt dry.” Don’t be afraid to pick a jacket with bright colors. Like lights, a colorful jacket is a good way to assure you are spotted by motorists.

Waterproof pants or riding tights are important for staying warm...

Putting fenders ($20 and more) on your bike is a good way to keep you a little drier...

Toes go cold fast on a bike, so it seems every cyclist has a trick for keeping their feet warm. Grant wears neoprene booties ($30 and up) over his shoes...

Most gloves aren’t waterproof because of all the seams, Grant said, but keeping your hands warm is important.

Add time
(One Tacoma rider) allows extra time for his rides in winter and fall. “Whether it’s riding a heavier bike with fenders or riding in the rain, it adds minutes to my commute,” he said.

Be (extra) alert
Staying alert is always good advice, but it’s especially important in the winter when there are extra hazards. Leaves, road stripes, steel plates and grates are all slippery when wet.

Clean up
Riding in the rain is a good way to shorten the life of your bike chain if you don’t take care of it, Grant said. He suggested lightly rinsing your chain – never use high pressure – then apply a degreaser ($6-$60). (Read more.)
More sage seasonal advice from the savvy bicyclists of the Pacific Northwest.

Image: News Tribune (Tacoma).
Visit: Pedalling through the puddles, The Province (Vancouver BC)
Visit: Don't give your bike the cold shoulder this year, Baltimore Sun
Visit: Wet Weather Riding, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Cold weather no barrier to bicycle commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Brr: Tips for cold-weather cycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Stay flexible during winter cycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Winter cold no obstacle to bicycle commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Pedaling through winter, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


SubCommander Sasquatch said...

Daily Pacific Northwest rain rider here. I'm surprised the author didn't mention wool. Wool sweaters and pants are also great for the rain and you can find them at any local thrift store. Hell, you probably already own at least 1 wool sweater. I've even seen people put thick wool socks over their biking shoes (holes cut out for cleats). Even when sopping wet, wool can keep you fairly warm.

Keith Moore said...

Another (but non-daily) Pacific NorthWET rider here. I *almost* enjoy riding on cold, rainy days. Once you settle into a rhythm and your temperatures stabilize, the cold and rain become almost irrelevant. My biggest issue is keeping my hands warm. On very wet/cold days, I wear a) wicking glove liners, b) full-fingered mountain biking gloves, and c) wind- and water-proof outer shell gloves (intended for snow sports). As the ride progresses and the ambient temperature changes, I adjust the layers as necessary.

Paul said...

Ok, this sounds strange to me. Would you go tru all that trouble if you would walk to work?
Fenders is an absolute must. Your clothes will get ruined otherwise.
I use a big poncho that I always keep in my bag. It goes over my hands and protects almost the whole body, like a small tent.
If the weather is really bad I wear rubber boots (I have a pair of extra shoes at work.

chococat78 said...

This is a very useful post because it rains quite a bit in the Houston area during the fall and winter months.

Anonymous said...

If you have any flexibility at all, I recommend the National Weather Service page for your area, with the hourly weather graph and the radar.

A 90% chance of rain doesn't mean it will be raining 90% of the day, except perhaps in Seattle. One can work around the downpours. Leaving a little earlier or later, one can usually arrange for the worst of it to hit while at work or at home.

Aside from a little drizzle, I've been rained on once in 14 months of bike commuting.

Robert Anderson said...

Here's a low-cost tip on footwear. If you take a daily newspaper, keep the sacks they come in, and keep at least a couple of non-punctured ones in your pannier. When the weather turns very wet, or just a little damp and very cold, put them over your socks and under your tights. They will keep your feet warm and dry. And, hey, it's green -- you're recycling!

David Hembrow said...

Most bikes you find being ridden in the rain here came as standard with mudguards and a full chain case to stop the chain being wrecked. They also come with dynamo lights, so you don't have to charge anything or replace batteries.

For wet weather use people largely ride with umbrellas.

It works. In this city the average number of bicycle journeys per person per day is just short of 1.2, and yes, most people do keep riding right through the winter.

jill said...

to rainy day commuting. hi my name is jill nerkowski, I have the perfect invention for rainy day riding, my bicycle canopy patent pending, upgrades a standard bike into a weatherproof bike that can be ridden on day day in any weather without getting wet or cold. please check out my website for design plans to build your own on your own bike,see

Paul Dorn said...

@jill nerkowski
Interesting design for a canopy. You would still need fenders--the muck splashing up is worst thing about rainy riding. And I imagine the wind resistance of this design won't appeal to many bicyclists.