Like most people, a sunny morning is more likely to get me out on my bike than is a rainy one. This year’s Bike Week, May 15-22, has been, and is, predicted to be full of rainy mornings. There are so many events planned in Western Massachusetts, it would be a shame to miss out just because of the rain. But riding in the rain can be fun too with the right attitude and preparation.
Update: MassBike put up a post with tips for riding in the rain!
My ride at Sunday’s fundraiser for the Hotel Bridge in Leeds, MA, was a lot of fun in light drizzle. The otherwise sticky morning would have had me sweating uncomfortably if not for the cooling mist.
My companion on the ride, Heather had on both a rain jacket and rain pants. Neither of us had fenders on our bikes and I sure was missing them. Fenders go around each wheel, and stop the dirty road muck from being splashed up on you by the tires as you ride. Without fenders, I had a nice streak up my back with road sand and mud. Note to self – get to bike shop and buy full fenders which will cover most of the wheel and keep me drier.
Once the rain got going in earnest, my main concerns were being able to see the road to ride safely, and having passing vehicles see me, not how my body felt. I had on a bright neon green jacket, and front and rear reflectors and lights. I had also put on some extra reflective tape before I left home. Note to self – put rechargeable batteries in charger so they are ready to go for next ride.
I had removed my helmet cover, a cheap shower cap from a hotel stay, but put it back on for the ride home. I wish I had it on for the ride to keep the pads in my helmet dry and to keep the sweat from mingling with the rain and running into my eyes. The sweat and rain did run into my eyes adding to the difficulty of seeing. I had to wipe my eyes with my hand every couple of minutes.
Putting the helmet visor back on and the helmet cover on prevented more rain from running straight down my face, and gave a little shelf of protection for my glasses. If I had parked my bike for any amount of time, I would have used another shower cap to cover the saddle and keep it dry. Note to self – stop at dollar store and pick up more shower caps.
One thing I did not do right after the ride was clean my bike and lube the chain. I was cold and tired and put it off. Of course, that meant the next morning I had to contend with the dried on muck and a chain that needed some love. Fortunately, my children provide a steady stream of rags from their outgrown and hard-worn clothing. So I wiped down the chain and put some lubricant on, wiping off the excess. Note to self – give bike a good washing, and clean the chain and cogs with a toothbrush, remembering to lube the chain at the end.
Commuting to work in the rain presents different challenges, such as changing in to fresh clothes, carrying documents or electronics in waterproof containers. There are many brands of waterproof panniers available for purchase. I use my bucket panniers, which are waterproof for my needs. Dry bags inside a backpack would also work. Note to self – next time you go to the Northampton DPW Transfer Station, look for more cat litter buckets to make into panniers.
I hope the rain doesn’t keep you off your bike this week. Hope to see you out there at a Bike Week event.