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How To ENJOY Riding In The Rain

I meant to post this yesterday, since it absolutely poured yesterday morning, and I was wondering how many people accepted the challenge from Mother Nature.

Yeah, I look at extreme weather (well, extreme for Toronto…) as short, doable challenges to tackle on my 7 km commute to work. The main challenge is being prepared enough to still have a good day at work. Oh, and having something good and witty to say to co-workers who think you’re nuts for biking in the rain (like you’ll melt or something. haha.)

I kind of wish I had my camera with me when I was going through Riverdale and the heavens opened up and emptied what seemed lik gallons of water on me.

As Tuco recently said, riding in the rain is actually not bad (I secretly love it, even cold rains in the fall and spring, because it makes me feel alive), it’s the post-ride stuff you do and are prepared for.

Here’s what I do on the days I wake up and the world is wet:

1. Dress appropriate to the temperature. Rain usually doesn’t make the air a lot colder, and if you put too much on, it’s more stuff that will be soggy later.

2. Take extra clothes.
I’m lucky that my work provides little closets next to everyone’s desk in our cubefarms, so I leave my dress clothes at work (dry cleaning them regularly) and can therefore bike in normal clothes – On normal days I take extra underwear and socks and a t-shirt. On rainy days, I take two sets of this stuff and stick it in grocery bags, in one pannier bag.

3. Dry feet are important.
Like Lieutenant Dan says in Forrest Gump, take care of your feet, Gump! I stick my shoes in another grocery bag, and put that in the other pannier bag. I then wear OLD shoes when I bike in the rain. This may sound weird, but it means that when you’re ready to bike home in the afternoon (when it most likely won’t be raining), your nice biking shoes are dry. I keep my dress shoes at work like I do my dress clothes.

4. Stinky people aren’t popular. You need to prepare to not stink at work. Biking in the rain makes you very wet. Wet human smells almost as bad as wet dog, especially in an office environment. If you are one of the lucky few who have a shower at work, use it. If not, pack a towel in one of your pannier bags. It’ll help you dry out when you change in the bathroom. Also, keep deoderant and a small thing of cologne/perfume (don’t use too much!) in a desk drawer that you can use to de-stank-ify yourself.

Darren J also has a wildly popular post with great advice called How To Always Smell Fresh (Even When Your Workplace Has No Shower).

That’s about it. It’s what I’ve learned about biking in the rain so far.

With a bit of preparation, you can tackle the wet streets at a bit slower pace (your brakes and car brakes won’t work as well in the rain), and enjoy all that liquid sunshine reminding you that taking shelter in cars is for people weaker than you.

  • Darren J

    I like the grocery bag in the shoe idea. It keeps the feet surprisingly comfortable, and warm.

  • Tanya

    I particularly like MEC rain pants. You can pull them over regular pants and this way when a car inevitably drives through a muddy puddle at high speed splashing you with muck, its only your outer layer that gets grungy. I also have and enjoy (for cold rain) a helmet cover with a neck flap.

  • funkless

    great tips!
    but actually, cologne and perfume should never be worn in the workplace. 15% of canadians have asthma and other respiratory ailments which can be triggered by chemical fragrances.
    it’s better to smell a little funky than make a coworker seriously ill!

  • mandy patinkin

    good tips – I’m a rain cyclist and a snow rider too with about a 4 km one way commute to work. Maybe the most important tip should be: for god’s sake be careful! Brakes don’t work as well in the rain – any metal bits in the road such as street car tracks or manhole covers are very slippery. Choose a quiet route if possible. Remember to always shoulder check, be very visable, signal your turns and slow down.

  • Martino

    Watch those turns … easy to slide out in the rain, but even that can be fun.

  • Tuco

    One of the commenters in Mandy Patinkin? The actor from Princess Bride? “you killed my father, prepare to die??” Psychadelic.

    I just bought plain old rubber boots for rain riding on my city bike. I pulled my cycling pants down over them yesterday in that UNBELIEVABLE ALL DAY RAINSTORM we had and the boots were fine.. (the rain went right through both my cycling pants and coat)… but the boots were fine! : )

  • Anonymous

    anyone who thinks that smelling like a wet dog for 8 hours next to your coworkers is a good idea is a stinking hippy, and should not be listened to;.

  • Joe (BikingToronto)

    If you don’t believe lots of stank, are you a non-stinking hippie? It’s good to get these things straight. :)