You + Bike + Rain = Biking in the Rain: I’ve been getting a lot of biking in the rain questions lately, as fall rain and cooler weather is finally upon California, I’d like to share wisdom through experience from riding all-weather-all-year. P.S. This is the California edition – our heaviest rain is a “Kali Mist” that feels like a spray bottle in front of your face; kudo’s and props to riders in states that ride snow covered roads in winter. Two things bother beginning bicyclists – rain and headwind – the faster you get over these two, the better for you as a bicyclist. Lastly, we’re not anti-car, we are pro-bike!
I) Duckbill fender attaches to seatpost, prevents skunk tail up your back when riding in the wet; cheap, takes seconds to take on and off.
II) 100% Wool base layer and/or sweater; nothing breathes in all-weather like wool (merino and cashmere are the finest), plus it doesn’t smell like cotton, can go weeks without washing, and keeps you warm even when soaked in sweat or rain.
III) Gore-Tex: nothing sucks like arriving to destination with wet feet or wet torso. Get Gore-Tex branded shoes like my Nike Dunk’s, or a jacket made of Gore-Tex like my North Face – it’s better at ventilating your perspiration than low end water resistant or externally applied temporary coatings. Ski/snowboard or soccer pant shells ensure your khaki’s / jeans and legs stay dry.
IV) Night riding: front white blinker, rear red blinker, brighter the clothes, the better. City riding is mostly about making yourself visible to drivers who don’t expect bicyclists on the road. Add a bell to make you a bona-fide vehicle.
V) Stay liquid: hydrate, drink water, eat light and constantly – food is your energy battery.
VI) A bandana can help keep the bees out of your mouth in the summer and warms your ears in the winter. It can also be used in combination with a helmet.
VII) Mini u-lock and helmet are essential, do not buy cheap and save money on these two – get the best. Your continued bike ownership and potential use of your brain deserve it.
VIII) When fearing your safety or when in doubt, OWN THE LANE. That means riding in the center of the lane as if you and your bike are a vehicle. California law states you are allowed the lane any time you feel unsafe. Also, any vehicle passing a bicyclist has to allow 3-ft minimum by law. Although it’s best to not confront a 3,000 lb. moving vehicle, if a driver brushes you, feel free to fist hammer the windshield and/or break the driver’s mirror or kick in the fender or drag out and pummel the driver into a coma.
IX) Live by BART or accessible public transit hub (train, subway, bus). This premier lifestyle choice allows you to travel to almost any destination. If the destination is not reachable by bicycle, it isn’t worth visiting. Worst case, you can rent / borrow a vehicle or hitch a ride with a friend – there are unlimited options to express your creativity in living the dream.
More Tips by Cyclists:
“Year by year, there are less and less things about riding that bother me. Year one includes the sores on your ass eventually stop hurting, which is nice, riding with out a backpack becomes infinitely more enjoyable, and routing gets easier although I miss getting lost on a bike. The next year you will start liking hills more instead of hating them. Last year I made myself go from hating head wind to actually enjoying it. I still hate riding in the rain but this year I am going to try to change that, I’m not quite sure how. As it becomes easier or boring, you will find ways to make it magical again.” – Cotton
“It never gets easier, you just go faster.” – Greg Lemond