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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-04-09, 11:46 AM   #1
bhop
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First Rain Commute.. was accidental..

First of all, I don't ride in the rain. I just don't want to deal with bringing a drippy bike indoors and wet clothes, plus I don't have fenders. So yesterday I checked the weather report before bedtime.. 'cloudy'.. ok, that's not rain.. Today, I look out the window, it's cloudy but not raining. I start to ride, it's still not raining.

A few miles in, a light drizzle starts. Not a big deal.. a little later, steady semi-heavy rain. It stayed that way the rest of the ride. It sucked.. rain on my face, in my eyes. My gloves are soaked, my shoes feel like they have buckets of water sloshing around, pedals are slippery, takes twice the distance to stop, road dirt on my clean saddlebag.. I don't ever want to ride in the rain again.
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Old 03-04-09, 12:05 PM   #2
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wimp!

Its ok though, the guys that live in snowy places would tell me the same thing when I dont ride on days with the temp below freezing.
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Old 03-04-09, 12:06 PM   #3
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HAhahaha
Riding in the rain can be fun if you are prepared for it.
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Old 03-04-09, 12:11 PM   #4
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Heh, heh.. i guess it does sound whiney compared to some of the things i've read here... I've been spoiled by "normal" So-Cal sunny year round weather. I'm sure i'd have a different experience if I had fenders and some kind of waterproof shoes.. in a way, it was kinda fun.
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Old 03-04-09, 12:15 PM   #5
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Don't worry, we are just messing with you!
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Old 03-04-09, 12:31 PM   #6
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Yeah, you SoCal folks are cute. I lived out there for a few years, and people panicked in the rain there like people in Atlanta do when it snows. Guess what? You lived to tell the tale. It's really not that bad. Believe me, downpours at 33F are a whole lot worse.

Today I'm riding home through rutted, refrozen ice. It's like really rough singletrack...except ice. So my sympathy meter is pegged at 0.

As to your specific concerns, there are easy solutions.

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rain on my face, in my eyes.
Solved by glasses or visor

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My gloves are soaked
Solved by not wearing gloves. Or using better materials, like neoprene.

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My shoes feel like they have buckets of water sloshing around
Solved by wearing shoes that don't contain a ton of porous material, also fenders.

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Pedals are slippery
Solved by using decent pedals

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takes twice the distance to stop
Solved by using decent pads and not expecting to stop on a dime.

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road dirt on my clean saddlebag.
Solved by not being OCD
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Old 03-04-09, 12:37 PM   #7
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Haha, I also did an accidental rain commute this morning. I stepped out and locked the door behind me and then noticed it was raining . I decided it was far better to just suck it up and ride in the rain than to wake my wife and kids .

Luckily, the bike was already set up with fenders. I have my clothes drying under my desk right now and am looking forward to the same on the ride home.
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Old 03-04-09, 12:39 PM   #8
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I live in Washington and so rain is pretty common. I usually just wait for sunny days though. But yesterday it was nice and sunny, started out on a bike ride. When I turned back a thunderstorm had formed and was following me. I had to go directly under it to get home. It was putting down huge ice pellets that were really sharp, not quite hail, sort of different. Anyways it was really strange weather for Western Washington.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:05 PM   #9
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Yeah, you SoCal folks are cute...etc.
You win
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Old 03-04-09, 01:13 PM   #10
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Getting caught in the rain in the wrong gear and on the wrong bike is a PITA. But given the proper gear (bike and clothing) riding in the rain is actually pretty fun. Downpours when cars are turning around from stadning water and where you can go through (getting wet, but humans have a great waterproof membrane called skin) is great.

There was a REALLY bad accident on my rout home yesterday. Rain slicked roads + speed + in attentive driver meant 4 REALLY smushed up cars. Traffic in 2 directions was closed and detoured. I rode around the accident, crossed in the open crosswalk, and was detoured by maybe 30 seconds.

Biking in the rain = good.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:20 PM   #11
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I live in Washington and so rain is pretty common. I usually just wait for sunny days though. But yesterday it was nice and sunny, started out on a bike ride. When I turned back a thunderstorm had formed and was following me. I had to go directly under it to get home. It was putting down huge ice pellets that were really sharp, not quite hail, sort of different. Anyways it was really strange weather for Western Washington.
Wait, really? Unusual?

We had the biggest snow storm in 70 years in Western Washington this year. Since then it's snowed, what, 6 or 7 times? That during a very dry winter. Nothing is unusual this year.

And really, hail is not that unusual here. Not as common as where I grew up in Northern California, but I've ridden through a fair number of hail storms. Not fun, but whatever.

And regarding rain for our arid climate brethren: wool and fenders. That and experience. The first time I rode in a heavy rain I thought "what the hell and am I doing?" but after a mile or two it was fun.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:22 PM   #12
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I might not ride in the rain either if I lived in SoCal. Here in Oregon, if I didn't ride in the rain, I'd only ride about four months out of the year. As it is, I don't ride in the snow, because I only lose five to ten days out of the year that way. If I lived in the Northeast, I'd probably ride in the snow.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:32 PM   #13
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I might not ride in the rain either if I lived in SoCal.
I think that is a good distinction. In Northern CA, it probably rains maybe 30 days a year. But setting up a rain bike + gear to ride in the rain may not be worth it for someone living in LA since its bloody 60-70 even in the "winter" down there. Given where the OP lives, unless you like the idea of riding in the rain (I do) I suppose its not really worth it.

I relish the little rain we get up here. My co-workers think I am nuts for wishing for downpours on my commute home.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:35 PM   #14
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Getting caught in the rain in the wrong gear and on the wrong bike is a PITA. But given the proper gear (bike and clothing) riding in the rain is actually pretty fun. <SNIP>
I could not agree more. Since I live in an area with changeable weather it means that I carry ALL my gear every day. I've only had to pull out the serious rain gear a few times in the last 6 months... I was VERY glad that I'd been lugging the extra gear with me. A 12 mile ride in pooring rain in 40F wearther with good rain gear was perfectly pleasant. Without the gear, my shoes would have filled with water, I would have been soaked all the way down to my underwear... that would have been a miserable ride, instead I have a very ZEN ride. I just got into the groove and took it in stride.

Fenders, rack, and pannier bags are a given for any commuting bike I might own
Rain coat, pants, helmet cover, and shoe covers keep you from being soaked to the bone. Sure I got hot and sweaty under the rain gear, but at least I didn't get so wet that I felt like I went for a swim. I've had that happen once in my life... never again if I can help it.

Happy riding - in REALY weather, currently dry but 12F this morning is is realy March yet?
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Old 03-04-09, 01:51 PM   #15
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SPD pedals, Koolstop Salmon brake pads, fenders and a rain jacket and a helmet cover, all fixed.

In LA, not riding in the rain may not cause you that much trouble. In Michigan, if you didn't ride when there was a chance of rain, you might as well sell your bike. There's ALWAYS a non-zero chance of rain. Well, maybe not 10 or 20 days in July/August, but apart from that, give it up. I spent the first part of my first bike commuting summer not riding if the Weather Channel said it might rain. Then I realized that they ALWAYS say it might rain.

Riding in the rain is actually fun. I've actually DELAYED leaving work, until the rain showed up. You just have to be equipped for it.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:53 PM   #16
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...., but at least I didn't get so wet that I felt like I went for a swim.
Its all in perspective..... see.... I think that is fun. I have crossed 2 foot "puddles" on my ride home and thought it was like stream crossings back when I rode MTB more often.

I will say, its only fun to do submarine riding on the *way home*. Where at the end of the ride, I wash off the bike with a hose, dump my clothes in the garage, and shower off.

I would say its NOT fun if I am on the way to work, where I have to figure out how to dry my gear in 8 hours.
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Old 03-04-09, 01:58 PM   #17
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I saw the dark green ban heading for LA and getting closer to the OC, so I picked up the pace this morning on the way in to beat the rain, which still hasn't arrive yet....

I won't mind riding home in the rain, it is just to work. It takes to long for my stuff to dry out for the ride home. As for the dripping bike, I am in IT so I have access to what would be a second kitchen for it to dry and drip in and not affect any equipment. The heavy traffic areas are more like a groove on a racetrack than dirty carpet, so no complaints on me there.

I recommend you check weather.com early and often and make your own predictions as the local forecasters tend to just about always be wrong.

When growing up in MD, I rode in the winter a couple times, once on ice I did that and then I did I then realized (finally) that buildings won't move no matter how hard I hit it.

I prefer rain to snow and ice.
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Old 03-04-09, 02:19 PM   #18
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I won't mind riding home in the rain, it is just to work. It takes to long for my stuff to dry out for the ride home.
Putting on cold, wet clothes is the most miserable thing in the world. This happens to me more when hiking/backpacking, and is especially bad on chilly early mornings. Body heat does a great job at drying things out, but that's little consolation.

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I prefer rain to snow and ice.
I guess I'm the opposite. I hate it when it's like 34ºF and raining. I always wish it were just a little colder so it could be snowing instead. I'll take snow over a cold rain any day.
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Old 03-04-09, 03:01 PM   #19
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Rain bites. But what is more fun are huge electrical thunderstorms! Last year I heard this rolling crackling thunder lightening thing right over my head go from the right side of my road to the left side of the road, OMG I was so scared I thought I was dead, but I got lucky and it just rolled over.

Mr. Underbridge ... you got a solution or prep for that?
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Old 03-04-09, 03:53 PM   #20
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SPD pedals, Koolstop Salmon brake pads, fenders and a rain jacket and a helmet cover, all fixed.

In LA, not riding in the rain may not cause you that much trouble. In Michigan, if you didn't ride when there was a chance of rain, you might as well sell your bike. There's ALWAYS a non-zero chance of rain. Well, maybe not 10 or 20 days in July/August, but apart from that, give it up. I spent the first part of my first bike commuting summer not riding if the Weather Channel said it might rain. Then I realized that they ALWAYS say it might rain.

Riding in the rain is actually fun. I've actually DELAYED leaving work, until the rain showed up. You just have to be equipped for it.
So you actually tell your boss, "Sorry I'm late, I had to wait for it to start raining"?
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Old 03-04-09, 04:06 PM   #21
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Not all rain is created equal.

Lets not forget that rain in southern california tends to come in much bigger drops than it does in the northwest and even in the intermountain west. My rain here is usually just a few days of drizzle; nothing like the big drop downpours I experienced in SoCal and the East Coast.

I could be totally wrong here and have only been in those places during the "freaky big rain drop days".

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Old 03-04-09, 05:05 PM   #22
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I have ridden in downpours (by my standards) where rain comes down in huge drops and the roads cannot handle the water and there is about 1/2" of water anywhere you step. This is the kind of rain that you slow way down in your car because your wipers have no chance of keeping up. It had the potential to not be fun, but its about your state of mind. I could have thought it was miserable and hence felt that way.
I took the advice of someone here else on BF and thought of it in terms of: How many memorable rides have you had? Bunny hopping puddles, making rooster tails and waves in stading water, and plowing through the rain like a crazed nut is my idea of a good time I guess.
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Old 03-04-09, 05:53 PM   #23
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Not all rain is created equal.

Lets not forget that rain in southern california tends to come in much bigger drops than it does in the northwest and even in the intermountain west. My rain here is usually just a few days of drizzle; nothing like the big drop downpours I experienced in SoCal and the East Coast.

I could be totally wrong here and have only been in those places during the "freaky big rain drop days".
you are correct here regarding freaky big rain drops in so-cal
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Old 03-05-09, 11:28 AM   #24
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I have ridden in downpours (by my standards) where rain comes down in huge drops and the roads cannot handle the water and there is about 1/2" of water anywhere you step. This is the kind of rain that you slow way down in your car because your wipers have no chance of keeping up. It had the potential to not be fun, but its about your state of mind. I could have thought it was miserable and hence felt that way.
I took the advice of someone here else on BF and thought of it in terms of: How many memorable rides have you had? Bunny hopping puddles, making rooster tails and waves in stading water, and plowing through the rain like a crazed nut is my idea of a good time I guess.
Very true. Once you acquire a taste for riding in the rain, it's fun, even downpours where the roads turn into rivers and lakes. Just slow down and be careful.

The only time I've not been able to get around how miserable the ride was I was riding in a Pacific Northwest Pineapple Express (basically a tropical depression that makes it all the way up here to Seattle). Pouring rain and 60 mph gusts of wind do not make for a fun ride, no matter how you cut it.
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Old 03-05-09, 11:45 AM   #25
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Not all rain is created equal..
+1


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Lets not forget that rain in southern california tends to come in much bigger drops than it does in the northwest and even in the intermountain west. My rain here is usually just a few days of drizzle; nothing like the big drop downpours I experienced in SoCal and the East Coast.
Having grown up in MD and visited FL in the summer time (St. Cloud area), TX, KY, GA (Rome), NJ, PA and experienced rain in each. CA has the worst rain for living your life in - big cold drops of rain, but it feels more like jelly when it hits you. It also isn't like the rain in the other areas either, it is a cold bitter rain and not enjoyable in the least. I have been in various climates at various times of the year and I can say hands down and without a doubt, cold in SoCal is colder than any of the other places.
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