30 Days of Biking, Day Five: Weather

“Run between the raindrops!” That’s how I used to rally my daughters when they were small and gullible and would giggle at this little game instead of being unhappy about getting soaked dashing from car to house.

Symbols of today's weather-full ride: Outlier daily riding pant with water beading up on the special Swiss fabric; rain jacket serving as lap cover; bright rain cover conveniently provided with my Detours bag.

Symbols of today’s weather-full ride: Outlier daily riding pant with water beading up on the special Swiss fabric; rain jacket serving as lap cover; bright rain cover conveniently provided with my Detours bag.

One of the gifts biking has given me is a twofold shift regarding weather: I’m somewhat better able to make my own assessment of conditions thanks to the need to pay a lot more attention (although I still check my weather.com app to plan my clothing), and I’m comfortable with a far wider range of temperatures and precipitation levels than when I was a more sheltered little flower.

Today’s forecast called for showers followed by light rain. To me this represents possible riding weather. I don’t ride to be miserable so I’m unlikely to get on my bike in a pounding storm, but after much testing in both Spokane and Seattle I can confirm that I’m not the Wicked Witch of the West because I don’t melt when I get wet.

With any luck the showers would fall somewhere other than my route and the rain would hold off until after my one-hour ride to the office. It appeared to be merely overcast so I set off, rain jacket tucked away in a bag.

Within a block I felt the first sprinkle. So much for this “assess conditions” skill–I’ve been fooled before as I adapt to the Seattle climate. For a while I rode in that special Seattle air: the kind that suggests you’re moving through the vegetable mister in the produce aisle. From there the ride looked like this:

2 miles: It’s no longer misting. It’s raining. Time to remember that stopping a bike takes longer when the rims are wet.

3 miles: My top is fine (thank you, merino wool) but my lap is starting to get wet. I love my Outlier daily riding pants but they’re water-resistant fabric, not waterproof. Tie rain jacket around waist–not as good as the beautiful bike-specific women’s raincoat designed by Juliette Delfs of Hub and Bespoke that’s on my must-have-someday list but it helps.

~4.5 miles: I’m wondering where metereologists draw the line between “light rain” and plain old “rain” sans adjective. Riding keeps me warm and I’ve definitively chosen “weather” as today’s word.

6 miles: Persistence rewarded–back to the vegetable mister.

7.6 miles: Mister turns off, headwind turns on. Not a really stiff blow but enough to notice the drag. (Back when I drove everywhere I didn’t notice wind direction unless it actually threw things at me or bent the trees over.)

8.5 miles: Now it’s a crosswind. Still no mist or rain though.

9.2 miles: Back into the headwind but it’s all downhill from here. I mourn the loss of the velocity the wind steals from me because downhills are fun, but at least it’s not blowing straight at me on an uphill, which is, as every bicyclist knows, Just. Not. Fair.

10.2 miles: Inside the office where body heat will finish drying my clothes within about 15 minutes.

My comfort level with a wider range of weather conditions doesn’t just extend to vegetable misters and rain clouds. When I rode in Spokane, where winter temperatures drop much lower, I only switched to the bus when the snow or ice was severe enough to keep drivers from being able to stop in time.

For biking in the cold I wore layers, a ski mask on my face for that stylish bank-robber look, a ski coat if necessary, lobster-claw gloves (think Vulcan greeting sign if you’ve never seen these), and ear-warmer straps knitted for me by friend Wilma Flanagan of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board.

Weather? What weather? “There’s no such thing as bad weather–only bad gear.”

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What weather conditions keep you from getting on the bike? (No apology needed for any answer–this isn’t a contest.)
  • How has riding a bicycle changed your awareness and attitudes concerning weather?


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One Comment

  1. Rebecca
    Posted April 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Riding a bike has definitely changed my perception of weather. I used to hate and dread every moment of being outside in that weird seattle rain. Now that I ride in it, the gross weather gets offset by how much I like being on a bike. Rather than just dreading the rain, I can enjoy some of my time dealing with it.

    Things that keep me away: snow, electrical storms, lots of wind, torrential downpours.