Wherever I venture out on one of my bicycles when it’s raining, which is generally everywhere, due to not owning a car, or come to that, any wish too. I am usually greeted with, ‘Your Wet’! I do hope this is not a reflection on my personality, or just how I come across!
I continually struggle to understand why the plugged-in masses have an aversion to rain!
Things we do with rain:
Swim in it
Bathe in it
Sports in it
Cook with it
Clean with it
Heat with it
Garden with it
The list could go on and on.
However, most people seem to think some guy dressed in black and covered in ‘rain’, must be either mad, uncomfortable or just plain nuts! Perhaps I am the first and latter, but never the middle.
I’ve been commuting to work or cycling around my local area for over two years now. In this time, I have endured the worse of what the British weather can throw at me, including a harsh white/icy winter of 2010. With winds that would stretch the Beaufort scale, and at times horizontal driving rain. I have never though, been uncomfortable.
To enjoy every bicycle journey. I’ve two things in my favour; one I can purchase; the other I have abundance of, and which most adventurist’s have too.
1. Appropriate clothing
2. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)
The real key though is number 2. With this, I have not just overcome atrocious weather, but also savour it. All my senses experiencing more than a normal car journey would offer in a lifetime.
Staying comfortable though is the key to keeping a healthy PMA. As I always like to say ‘any fool can be uncomfortable’! So with that, what is my apparel?
The most important areas of the body to keep warm, dry and protected are; the head, the bodies’ upper core, and the extremities.
Head – generally, I always wear a helmet, but this on its own is not enough to keep the rain off, as its vented. So on top goes a Polaris helmet rain cover. It’s not Gore-Tex or anything fancy, but does the job well enough. Also with reflective markings for poor visibility.
Eyes – very important in driving rain, is to be able to see where one is going! I have found after trial and error using many other glasses, the UVEX Racers, or now the newer sgl 101, serve me well. They sit off my nose comfortably, and do not press close to my eyes, plus good at keeping the wind out. Great protection and quality.
Core – the boiler room of the operation. Yes, this does not move much. Nevertheless, keeping your blood warm is so important as when it reaches your hands and feet, it will keep them cordial too. For this, I use an Endura Flyte jacket. It ticks all the main boxes, waterproof and breathable. Its light, and can be rolled up easily to stuff into a pannier or day pack. Good reflective markings too.
Hands – the thing is with gloves; you need to keep your hands warm and dry, but also need the flexibility to use gearing, brakes and adjust clothing. Zips are always a challenge when you cannot feel or hold them due to banana like fingers! After many attempts with cheaper gloves, I came across Sealskinz (not what you’re thinking!). I use their ‘All Weather Glove’ for the wetter rides. They list it as; 100% waterproof, breathable and windproof. I have to question, ‘100% waterproof’? After an hour cycling through a downpour? However, they do the job well enough for an hours commute. If really cold, I use a silk liner, this makes a huge difference. If particularly bitter, I then use their ‘Winter Cycling Glove’.
Feet – as any cyclist will tell you, cold toes while cycling, equals pain! I had initially used an over boot, or better known as a ‘bootie’. Great, keeps your toes warm and dry, but what a pain to use, getting on and off! If you’re on the bike all day, and not walking in them, your fine. So in comes Sealskinz again, they do waterproof socks. As above with the gloves, it covers the three main prerequisites. Warm too for those nippy rides.
Above all, I enjoy whatever weather is thrown at me. So I must have more than my fair share of ‘PMA’ or I’m just plain ‘NUTS’!
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Ralph Fiennes