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#KeepRiding: Gear Care

#KeepRiding
We’re here to help you enjoy riding your bike all winter long. Check back regularly for tips on how to ride through the rain and stay dry. CLICK HERE for all of our #KeepRiding articles and follow us on Twitter @ORbike for daily tips and advice.


The rainy season is in full swing, which means hopefully so is your gear. Because if you’re not wearing gear, you’re either miserable (wet) or you’re miserable (not riding your bike).

This season we’ll be running a series of article son how to successfully, and happily, ride through the winter. Sure, you’ll have a few bad days, but with our tips hopefully you’ll find the whole experience completely worth the gearing up and mental preparation it takes to brave the rain.

The key to getting through winter in Oregon is quality gear. We’ll spend some time talking about what to wear from head to toe, what you can expect to spend and how to find the gear that’s right for you – and you just might be surprised how good you can look.

But before we get into all of that, we thought it would be prudent to help you avoid the frustrations that come missing, stinky or damaged gear.

Your winter riding gear is an investment. If you purchase quality gear and take good care of it, the items will last for many years to come, even under the most intense riding situations.

CARVE OUT SPACE

Your gear needs room to breathe. If all goes well, you won’t be storing it as much as you’ll be airing it out. Find a good spot in your house where your gear can easily dry out over night or after a washing (see below). There’s not much worse than putting on cold, wet gear (though sometimes it can’t be avoided) so do your best to help your gear dry overnight, naturally.

But what’s equally key about carving out space for your gear is making it accessible. Suiting up in the morning should only take two minutes. If it takes any longer than that, you’re going to find yourself frustrated and making excuses to not ride. Try to allocate a gear spot that’s near where you head out the door or is near (but not too close to) a heat source.

Secure a bar from the ceiling to make a wide area for hangers, or come up with another solution that works well for you. While coat hooks are decent, they don’t provide the ideal environment for opening up the fabric and allowing it to easily dry over night. Put a towel underneath to catch drips and replace it frequently so the area is always fresh.

WASHING YOUR GEAR

Wash your gear as necessary – but not too often – according to the tag. Plan ahead as your gear should air dry. Excessive washing can degrade the fabric and reduce its rain repelling power. Turn jackets inside out with all zippers closed. Add extra appropriate detergent to stinky wrist cuffs. Consider using detergents and re-coating agents specifically designed for your type of gear. When in doubt, consult with the manufacturer.

If by chance there’s a sunny day, lay your gear in the sun to help naturally kill any mildew or stink that’s hanging out in the fabric.

DRYING YOUR LAUNDERED GEAR

Using the dryer will damage your gear, air dry instead. Hang your freshly washed gear in a warm environment whenever possible with plenty of room around it to air out. If the gear has to dry slowly or is packed too tightly around other gear, the funk sets in.

AT YOUR SOCIAL DESTINATION

If you’re storing your bike inside at your destination, lay your gear loosely over your bike to help it air out. If that’s not possible, leave the bike in the rain but bring your gear in. Hang it on a coat rack whenever possible.

Don’t let anyone give you a sticky look for handing them sopping wet gear. Smile, be proud; you rode your bike, heck yeah you did! Way to go. If you are visiting someone’s ultra clean house with no obvious spot for wet gear, simply ask the host where you should put it. After all, this is Oregon – nearly everyone here knows how to handle wet clothing without being squeamish. And if they don’t, well, they’re completely living in the wrong climate or they have a butler.

AT THE OFFICE

Chances are good your coworkers also have wet jackets, even if they’re not riding bikes to work. So if your workplace doesn’t have an appropriate spot to hang wet gear, speak with your HR person or management to start the conversation. Talk with friends about what their workplaces do – you may be surprised how extremely supportive some workplaces are, and these ideas could help you launch a new program at your office.

ARRIVE EARLY, STRIP DOWN, COMPOSE

We very well may say this in just about every #KeepRiding article this season: Be proud of your biking through the rain, and compose yourself. Biking through the rain is going to feel like a burden if you’re frazzled, tousled, hurried and dirty when you arrive to your destination.

Plan to arrive about 15 minutes early all winter long, or at least until you get into the groove of things. Take the time to find where remove your gear, find a place to store it, go to the restroom, wipe down your glasses, check your hair, wash your hands and compose yourself. Give yourself a little wink, high five or pat on the back before heading out to meet your adoring fans – all those people who will be totally impressed that you rode your bike in this weather.

HOW DO YOU PRESERVE YOUR GEAR?

We want to hear your ideas and experience. Share your tips below.

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Comments
13 Responses to “#KeepRiding: Gear Care”
  1. Rebecca says:

    Good tips and even better timing. After yesterday’s soggy commute, it’s reassuring to know that other cyclists aren’t necessarily stoic road warriors all the time and have the same annoyances as me: messy hair, streaky glasses, soggy gloves. Still preferable to rush hour traffic, though!

  2. David Horner says:

    No more stinky gear? Is it possible?

  3. Joanna Christonson says:

    Good timing on this information – I just bought a new Showers Pass jacket. I hear they are a good brand that keeps you dry so I spent a bunch of money because I think I might actually ride this winter and my old rain coat for walkign the dog wasn’t working for me on the bike.

  4. portlandpaul says:

    Good practical tips, to which I’d add:

    1. Get fenders – they really do help cut down a lot of crud. Even the plastic ones (I have Shockblade ones) will be a benefit.
    2. Shoes/feet are a particular problem. I’ve yet to find a way to keep my feet dry. Have a change of socks/shoes in the office. Airing out stinky wet bike shoes can prove a challenge.
    3. Smile. There’s a kind of perverse happiness in suffering through the rain and seeing the lemmings in their cars shaking their head at your ‘madness’.

  5. Hal Ballard says:

    I ride with a nylon shell on days when the rain might be light or showery for temporary weatherproofing, I put it in the dryer on low heat and add a (odor free) static sheet for every article of clothing. The weather ‘proofing’ may last only one or two exposures, but I’ll take keeping dry on any one trip any day.

  6. Bruce says:

    If you need encouragement in the rain you should route your commute past a freeway entrance; on mine I pass the entrance to I-5 from Williams, for example. Even in the worst downpour, all it takes is passing the idling cars backed up to Broadway and the sun is shining again. See ya!

    I run a dehumidifier in the basement where I keep my gear, my clothes are never wet or stinky in the morning.

  7. Ayleen Crotty says:

    Hi Portland Paul – Thanks for the ideas. We’ll be discussing WHAT gear to use in future articles and we hope you’ll weigh in.

    And a smile – YES! It goes a long way. It’s not really madness anymore, though it certainly seemed like that on my the-only-one-out-there commutes of the early 2000’s!

    Ayleen

  8. Tony says:

    The thing I always tell myself as I ride in the rain is that I can only get so wet. At some point one hits total saturation. After that no one gets any wetter. Then I can just have fun.

    Thanks for the tips.

    I’ve found using a towel at work (we’re well supplied with towels, showers, etc.) to wrap up my gloves and give them a good squeeze helps to get the excess water out and they dry a lot faster.

  9. Susan says:

    To dry your gear, use a fan pointed directly at it. If you have several things to dry, you can move the fan from one to the other. Rain gear is made of synthetics & will dry fast.

    For dry feet I wear Sidi Diablo boots, warm and waterproof. There are others on the market, too. My feet stay dry, but the outside gets wet, so I use the fan trick on them too.

    For wonderful wool legwarmers (below the knee) cut the feet out of a pair of knee socks. I actually bought a pair of smartwool knee socks for the purpose of making leg warmers out of them. They’re expensive, but no more so than buying leg warmers.

  10. Christie says:

    I agree – but I buy thick, tall socks and when the heels wear out (always too soon) I cut off the feet and use them as leg warmers. Seems a shame to waste all that good wool!

  11. Lee says:

    Recently became a one-car family again and that spurred me back into riding to work. Hanging gear out in the garage with a fan or two circulation air on everything seems to work well for me. Of course, as the season progresses, and weather worsens, my most important tip is : lights, Lights and more LIGHTS !!

  12. mat says:

    I commute every week day, rain or shine. I follow all the above directions but can’t seem to get my rain gear to last more then one winter or maybe a winter and half. Pants seem to have the shortest life span. I went all in last year on a Gore jacket and that seems to be holding strong knock on wood.

    • Ayleen Crotty says:

      Hi Mat –
      While careful care of your gear is vital, we are also firm believers in purchasing high quality gear. You won’t find us talking a whole lot about fancy-this and fancy-that here at practical, fun ORbike, but when it comes to gear, solid quality is what we recommend investing in. We like Endura and Showers Pass for their fit and lasting quality – to name the top two that come to mind – and we’re still working on exploring other brands to be able to advocate for them.

      What is it that seems to fail on your gear? Weather proofing? Seams? We’re just curious!

      Ayleen

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