Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
I've set myself the goal of commuting three times a week come rain or shine.
I don't mind getting a little wet and I've got decent mudguards and a new jacket... How do you crazy commuters keep warm and dry?
By HTFU. Warm and dry is for work .
Without being flippant how long is your commute? Mine is around an hour each way. Having recently been to Vietnam and seen people working waist to neck deep in paddy fields all day, who am I to complain if I get a little wet occasionally for a couple of hours.
According to my log, out of 125 commute rides this year, I have had rain on 17 of those rides and it has been heavy only twice. I have not had rain for the whole trip at all IIRC. Yesterday, I had reasonably heavy rain and cold for about 5 mins and that is it - if I had left the office 5 mins later I would not have had any.. curse the weather gods!
Last winter I wore leg warmers and I have a very high quality gortex jacket which I have worn twice during heavy rain. It does not keep me dry, but makes heavy rain a little more comfortable and less cold. Stuffing your shoes with newspaper overnight normally makes them dry enough for the next day.
http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/radar/ can be your friend as well... ah I see... Adelaide seems a bit rainy at the mo...
"My bicycle masters boardwalk and quagmire with aplomb. Those that doubt me... suck THUMB by choice."
1. you are going to get wet irrespective of what wet weather gear you wear. The question is how wet? This is where the wicking fabrics really prove their worth but in the end it is a case of HTFU. I am about to invest in some waterproof shoe covers to reduce the amount of water getting to my feet.
2. Keeping warm, as always, is about layers. I am starting to add layers at the moment (arm warmers, base layer, long fingered gloves). By doing this I get the ability to remove layers as the day warms up, especially on long rides.
The worst thing of all is when you get wet in the morning and your clothes do not dry out by the end of the day. That really sucks! Again not much you can do other than take spares (especially socks) and HTFU. Once you get through your first Winter you'll be fine. Just don't give up
Just remember - water never hurt anyone !
And 'Titanic' doesn't count - that was just a movie.
Even the latest rulings from the US legal system confirm that water never hurt anyone.
2010 GT GTR Carbon Team
2008 Avanti Giro, Lime Green
"Middle Age" postponed for another year ...
I have a nice waterproof jacket from Army Disposal, can't wear it unless it's damn cold though!
Got to get me some shoe covers but other than that and gloves I think Its easiest just to deal with the wetness, there's no way you'll ever keep all the water out!
UNfortunately my office has no changerooms so my gear sits in a cold bathroom all day, getting back into wet lycra is not fun but hey once you're on the bike it doesn't matter much.
As long as I get to work early enough to clean myself up a bit I'm happy
a. Don't like my shoes being wet, I rub good waterproof leather paste on my leather shoe upper . Keep my feet really dry for a week with one application. . . . Good nourishment for your shoe leather as well .
b. Ride with my " quick dry " fabric work pants . A New Zealand brand " Earth , Sea and Sky " do put out a very urban and dressy pants for this purpose.
For those who can, leaving a spare set of cycling clothes at work is an option.
I leave a spare set of front lights, rear lights, socks, sunnies and clothes in a plastic bag at work.
For those who don't mind their feet getting wet, but hate water logging in their shoes, I wear rock fishing shoes, they have drainage holes in the sole and the upper is made of wetsuit material and mesh. Looks like a normal sneaker and won't work with clipless pedals...just normal flat pedals. They dry really quickly.
There's a few answers to this dual question (warm vs dry)
Mudguards are the first step to dry: once you have these other methods have a chance in anything less than a torrential downpour.
I do the same as any other damp activity - layers with a windproof/water resistant outer shell.
As it doesn't really get cold where I am (never below 0C) I usually let the legs get wet rather than get all sweaty in ski pants. The upper body and arms I like to keep dry.
Keeping fingers, ears and feet warm is my main issue - gloves, beanie (under helmet) and serious socks are in order. I've now bought some wetsuit material "booties" as I'm too cheap to buy winter specific shoes.
I've seen people with clear showercaps over their helmets - Sheldon used to tape up the vents on his helmet for winter
The old fashioned cycling cape is reported to work very well - never tried it myself.
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
I ride about an hour to work and there are showers available so I'm not too fussed about staying dry. I've been riding in shorts and a long sleeved t-shirt. This was fine over summer but I have no idea what I'm going to do to stay warm as the weather gets cold and wet.
I've got good mudguards and a couple of "waterproof" cycling jackets (a light one without sleeves and a heavier with better waterproofing) but nothing else yet.
Mudguards are a must. Instead of wearing a cycling specific Jersey I find it good to wear one of those wicking T-shirts or Polo shirts that are marketed for soccer or similar sports shirts. They dry fairly quickly even if hung up somewhere not ideal for it. Spare socks are a must!
I started commuting last April, just wearing shorts & t-shirt, then adding windcheater as it got chillier. Trackie dacs for particularly cold mornings (<9 degrees), but too hot on the way home, so took shorts as well. Tended to push hard, so body always warmed up. Purchased leather full-finger leather gloves from Big Wobbly for about $20. High-visibility vest (yellow) goes around my shoulders & backback and yelow is my favorite colour for (upper)cycling clothing. Have bought long cycling pants & arm warmers from ebay in prep for this winter. Still considering a jacket, & have to get something for my ears, but that was only a problem starting out in <5 degrees (dry).
Fully agree with the spare socks advice - forgot em this morning and had to squelch around for the whole day (easy to trim toe-nails when got home, tho ). Oh, and wear dark socks when its wet, or your light socks will be dark when you get there .
Great commuting goal - hope you can keep to it .
- Ciao; 3rd Kog.("I'm not racing, just trying to catch the dude up ahead")
Now: Avanti Monza (to keep up with Pinarello riders), Shogun Metro (+ tag-along)
B4: Phillips Multi-track (really bad, but got me back into riding)
As stated, keep a change of clothes at work, tho' a fan heater in a single toilet cubicle makes for a great drying room.
I take the short way if it rains, and if on the roadie I get the GLW to pick me up off the train.
Wimp? YES. Rim brakes have scared me once too often in the wet...
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
I have a netti rain jacket that usually comes off by the time I get to the bottom of the first climb, unless it is absolutely bucketing. Under that I have Skins, jersey + knicks, arm and leg warmers, visibility vest, soemtimes neoprene shoe covers. I use long-fingered mtb gloves during winter. My main problem in winter is the first section of my ride is a 3km+ downhill that is pretty quick. Unless I layer up I can't feel my extremities by the time I get to the bottom where the traffic is thickest. The wet intensifies the effect.
Newspaper trick has been used on more than one occasion!
It's not really possible to stay dry. If you have waterproof stuff on to stop the wet getting in, you still get wet from perspiration. So the priority then becomes taking the chill off when it hits you, and ensuring you can both see and be seen. If I can't see sufficiently well to be able to judge merging with traffic, I'll do one of three things: take to the footpath; take an alternate route; find somewhere sheltered to wait out the worst of it.
"People have a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight." -- James W Loewen
I'm not keen on lycra while commuting as it gets smelly - putting it back on can be a challlenge
I'll +1 the comment on an extra pair of socks for the trip home. If your base layer is a cotton t-shirt you may want a dry one of these too.
If you're going to be doing this a lot the modern ultrafine merino baselayer stuff is the ducks knuts. So far removed from my old (but beloved) saggy woolen long johns.
The obvious king of the hill here is Icebreaker, pricey but good
For those who aren't aware of them Ground Effect make a range of interesting inclement weather bike gear. Their 'thermos' is their newspaper replacement
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
Do you find that they keep you much warmer than just knicks? Also, how are they in the wet?
My wife and I have been thinking about winter commuting and that skins (or other cheaper compression wear) may be a good option...?
"My bicycle masters boardwalk and quagmire with aplomb. Those that doubt me... suck THUMB by choice."
hey guys firstly re riding in the rain ... i live in tropical north QLD, we had 40 days + of solid rain at the start of the year until feb .... but it was warm. imo rain coats should keep you dry until your warm from riding, after that it doesnt matter so much (once again in the tropics)
cold rain ... i grew up in canberra ... now in towsville i have started wearing a long sleeved cycle shirt as it got below 20 dont envy winter riding any more so cant help you there
"I know its a buget 'cause its got lots of numbers in it!" GWBush
I always just wore regular cycle garb in the rain. I wear fresh socks and jersey on the way home anyway. Having said that i've now invested in the following for winter (in order of priority):
Mud guards - for spray off the front wheel into the face only, don't give much of a toss about the rear, though I'll user the rear as well.
Shoe covers - hate finding shoes still soaked through the next morning
Waterproof single layer fluro cycling jacket
Haven't used any of these yet because it hasn't rained for about a month.
+1 on this - the frequency and inconvenience of rain is greatly exaggerated.
Lightning is somewhat more threatening - but often a 15 to 20 minute delay in a shelter is all that you need to let that pass by. Check the radar before you set out, and you can usually spot the storm fronts and how long they're taking to move through.
While some posts have suggested nothing will keep you dry, Anaconda have a Transitions Cycling jacket made of breathable material on special for $99 until 10th May (Normally $169. This is a Club price, but anyone can join the club). It's made of very similar if not same material as last year's model which I've found very effective at keeping my upper body dry in rain. Its sufficiently breathable that it's not good at keeping wind-chill out - need a thermal u'wear base layer for temps < 12 deg. Also light enough to carry in your bag everyday.
WombatK - Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead
I ride in all weather with the exception of severe road alerts. Last winter I rode Chase with only a clip on mudguard on the front and that seemed to be okay. This year Sir Lancelot has full SKS mudguards.
For myself, I wear overshoes (pretend waterproof) which are reasonably okay at keeping my socks damp. I tried waterproof socks, but found that they where only good for giving my feet a bath.
Legs, I tend to wear leg warmers and these are surprisingly good at keeping me warm and reonsably dry.
Upper body I wear a Berghaus Gore-Tex PackLite jacket which is excellent.
Head: I wear a Ground Effect Baked Beanie or a Endura beanie under my helmet. Keeps me warm and dry.
I also take a spare jersey, knicks and socks or leave them at work for the days when I need to change in to a dry set for the ride home.
From my point of view this is the most important bit.... when I'm out riding and get a bit wet, I find I'm pretty much ok until I stop - maybe it's a wetsuit like effect where your body heat warms up the water layer or something. But getting back into those wet clothes at the end of the day to go home - that sucks royally.
I find that when it gets real wet, you aren't going to keep the water out. But it's worth trying. As someone mentioned earlier, most of the time you'll miss the rain, and I also use weather websites to check where things are currently at, helps greatly. Mudguards are great, as they help prevent the road grime / wet coming up onto you. I use basic plastic guards that simply attach on / clip on. They only need to get in the way of the muck coming up off the road. Make sure your front mudguard that is a bit wider / covers the wheel, as if you only have a skinny guard attached to your frame it allows water up when you turn the wheel (spray line outside the protection of the guard).
I find that the morning ride is often drizzly where I live, sometimes heavy fog. My outer shell / layer is completely waterproof. I haven't got flash gear (ie: goretex), so I slow down, use the gears on the bike (prevents overcooking) and just be happy that I'm on two wheels rather than using four.
Underneath my waterproofs I've found Netti arms to be fantastic, and wear a normal t-shirt with vest. Gloves are a must, either with/without fingers (depends on temp.). If I'm wearing trackie pants because it's a bit cool, I'll use my bright orange velcro cuff thingies (what are they called?) and have my pants folded up on themselves so that my ankles are free. My legs are exposed, but it's only really half calf down. I have some really old sneakers that have no tread, perfect for riding and getting wet. Black socks are a must - white are too hard to get clean (wife said!).
If the rain does come down I grab out my plastic pants, throw them over the top of half folded up trackies, and let the rain dribble into my shoes. The great thing about folding up the bottom of trackies for riding, is that the water that dribbles off the bottom of my plastic overpants doesn't get onto my trackies. When it comes to work, off come the sneakers, out comes the towel & dry socks, slip on some crocs / sandals that I've left at work just for this purpose, and I'm dry, ready to go! If you get into work early enough (ie: before everyone else) place your shoes in front of the heater to dry out - much nicer on the return trip rather than wet shoes. Biggest tip with winter riding - I have to remind myself to slow down, or else I do end up cooking. Riding faster won't get you out of the rain too much sooner, and definitely won't keep you any more dry. And when it doesn't seem worth it, I just look at my petrol bill - it's almost eliminated!
I almost forgot, flashing lights (especially rear) are a must in average conditions. Best to have irregular flashing patterns if you can find them. And a bandana / small towel is good too, helps to clean up any sweat / grime that may have got onto your face.
Feedback welcome - ideas??? Suggestions???
The gear I use when commuting in the winter rain in Melbourne:
I have a hiking waterproof jacket that is a bit large for me so it covers my lower back when bent over. It's a Rainbird brand. Also has venting under the armpits. It works well in all conditions except very cold rain & wind. In these conditions the condensation from my body becomes the moisture problem. Consoling myself with, "At least I'm warm" is how I get through those times. Mind you; those times are infrequent as it rains little in Melbourne.
Also have a pair of waterproof hiking pants, same brand as jacket, and they're very good. In heavy rain the water runs down the leg of the pants and into my shoes! That's not so good.
Having wet feet is, for me, as annoying as having a wet backside. I really dislike it. When I know the rain is going to be heavy I tuck my feet inside old shopping bags, then put on my shoes, and then tighten my pants leg hem with an elastic loop so that the top of the bags are above the loop (inside the pants) and held in place. For longer commutes this would eventually make my feet wet with condensation. Overall I've only done this about 10 times. There may be more elegant ways but this way works, it's very cheap, and the bags are really light and easily compressed to keep in a pocket of a pannier/backpack. Whilst at work I stuffed the shoes with yesterday's newspaper from the tea-room and stood them toe-up and sole against a wall.
Yeah: it's a bit 'hobo' but at least no-one I was trying to impress with my awesome cycling gear saw me.
--Current rides: Cannondale Bad Boy 8 || Surly Big Dummy
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