Ride Through the Rain

Hello, Winter! Or is it fall? Here in Oregon it’s all kind of the same: rain.

While it may seem crazy to head out into the blustery weather on two wheels, with the right gear you can stylishly arrive at your destination without hassle – and dry as a bone.

We’ve put together this handy guide to gear to help you ride through the rain.

Invest in good gear

Having the right gear makes all the difference in the world. Invest in quality gear that will stand the test of time and last you for many years to come. At minimum, you need FULLY waterproof pants, a jacket, gloves and shoe covers (booties). Each of those items could be its own topic, so we won’t get into that just yet, but stay tuned as we’ll be covering gear more in future articles.

Just wear it

The sky looks decent, you’re tempted to take the risk and head out the door sans rain pants. Nah, don’t bother. In Oregon, with our on-again-off-again rain, it’s not worth it. Just put on the gear and enjoy the ride.

Plan extra time

Why run into your meeting dripping and frazzled? Pad in an extra 15 minutes – to suit up and de-suit. When you arrive at your destination, that party or meeting, duck into the restroom, remove your gear, and straighten your clothes. Take a deep breath, grab a drink of water, and pat yourself on the back. You look good, you’re dry, and you’re much healthier, happier and stronger for it.

Tuck your gear away and waltz into the room with class.

Designate a gear storage spot and air out your gear

When you get home at the end of the day, you may be dripping wet on the outside. Designate a place where you can hang your gear all winter long. You want an area that is warm enough to help your gear dry over night and where it’s easy to grab it in the morning. When you can see your gear, you’re more likely to bite the bullet and suit up for a ride.

Airing out your gear when you’re not wearing it is one of the best things you can to to help the fabric last longer. It will stay cleaner and less stinky this way. You want to avoid having to wash it too often.

Reward yourself

Biking in the rain can be exhilarating and refreshing, but it can also be exhausting. Take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. Drink an extra beer, having another brownie, put off cleaning the house – whatever it is, do something special for yourself. You’ve earned it.

Take care of your gear

Wash your gear as necessary – but not too often – according to the tag. Excessive washing can degrade the fabric and reduce its rain repelling power. Don’t use the dryer as it will damage most gear. Turn jackets inside out with all zippers closed. Add extra 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.

How do you ride through the rain?

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

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9 Responses to “Ride Through the Rain”
  1. Christin Z says:

    What about helmet covers? I wear mine all the time.

    • Noel says:

      I wear a high visibility cover with reflective stripes. Extra layer of insulation + rain protection + safety on those twilighty, low contrast winter days. Very geek chic, too.

  2. Frank says:

    The article covers one of two alternate strategies. The problem with full waterproof gear is that it gets hot & sweaty inside–“breathable” gear never really is. The other strategy is to go for wet but warm. If you have a shower or place to change at the end of your ride, good light wool (less smelly) or polypro with a windbreaker will keep you warm even when wet. One advantage of that strategy is that it plays to the odds–while it’s usually threatening, the odds of it actually raining during your ride are not that great. So you’re comfortable (and not sweaty in waterproof gear) for most rides, but don’t care when it does rain.

  3. Brian says:

    My least favorite thing about rainy commutes is that I overheat with all that rain gear on. Any cooler alternatives?

  4. Travis says:

    I got tired of trying to make my bike helmet warmer and started riding in my ski helmet.

  5. CharlieW says:

    Clear cheap cycling eyewear… treat ’em with RainX and you’ll be able to see better in the rain, even at night (the hardest most stressful challenge for the year-round rider, the rainy night). New idea from VauDe — the cycling gaiters. Cover up to your knee, down over your shoes, leaving only cleat openings in the bottoms. I tried ’em, and they work great when the road is really wet, whether it’s raining or not, at protecting you from street/puddle splash, which for me is probably the most consistent source of moisture on rainy days. Wring out my socks!

  6. Bob says:

    Any recommendations for brands of long pants and riding jackets? Any brands to stay away from? I am not a serious rider, but I don’t want to be in pain if I am riding this winter and get caught in the rain.

  7. ayleen says:

    Brian – We’ll continue to address overheating and breathability – it’s a big issue.

    I heat up quickly when I ride so I opt for the least amount of gear I can get away with (I have decent damp tolerance) and I invest in breathable gear (Frank is right – it is never truly breathable). A quality rain jacket with pit zips won’t trap body heat as much. I dress lighter and carry an indoor second layer in my bag. I also never use a helmet cover as my head stays warm and dry enough without it. I prefer a thin wool headband to keep my ears warm.

    Keep the ideas coming! We love hearing from real riders who are putting themselves (and their bikes and gear) through the wringer in the winter.

  8. Eva says:

    Splurge for that $250 raincoat, eVent and GoreTex (and dry shoulders) are totally worth it. I skip the shoe covers and go for rain boots for my commute. If it’s warm and wet I wear spandex instead of my usual rainpants over jeans. I’m also a big fan of a cycling cap with ear covers under my helmet…keeps my head moderately dry/warmer, and keeps my face a little drier. If you’re getting too hot and sweaty, open your pit zips and slow down.

    Be aware that drivers have a hard time seeing you when it’s dark and rainy. Be observant and ride defensively!

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