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Thread: staying dry

  1. #1
    i'll probably break it 91MF's Avatar
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    staying dry

    a question, but first a little background:

    for the past five years i have been cyclocommuting 2-4 days a week. above freezing temps[no winters], no extreme weather conditions[very light rain is as bad as it gets otherwise im driving]. i have been riding various singlespeed[free and fixed] and various road bikes. commute distance is ~60km round trip and my average speed is ~30kmh. the route is extremely rough pavement and loads of terrible driving.

    two weeks ago i decided i was going to sell my wifes car, give her my wagon and our family would go down to a single motor vehicle. this also puts my average weekly commute time to around 10hrs and ~300km. pretty exciting.

    im an automotive technician and her jetta was probably the most well kept/maintained in the city so it sold quickly for full price to the first viewer.

    proud of myself i decided i would purchase a new 'commute/rain bike'[n+1]. this would preserve my good bikes[justification #1] and allow me to do something none of my other bikes allow -- fenders and rack/panniers[justification #2]. a bike i could just cruise at 23-25kmh on days when im not up to hammering through traffic at speed[justification #3].

    lucky to have friends who work at various LBS i ended up practically stealing a 2012 norco indie 4. its entry level and some of the parts are def spec'd terrible but my parts bin will sort most of that. drop bar setup is first on the menu...[...it begins, lol]

    fenders, a rack and panniers were fitted and i rode the bike in torrential rain yesterday. soaked.

    the question:

    what are you all wearing to stay dry but not have your body temps soar? or do you all just get soaked through and clean up at work?
    bike. throw. #MFDCR

  2. #2
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 91MF View Post
    the question:

    what are you all wearing to stay dry but not have your body temps soar? or do you all just get soaked through and clean up at work?
    for me, the issue of what to wear in the rain all comes down to temperature.

    if it's 55 degrees or above, i just get wet, as any kind of waterproof shell will make me sweat like a mofo in those kinds of temps. and if it's warm, i'd rather get soaked from rain than soaked from sweat.

    from about 40 - 55 degrees, i have a very lightweight "breathable" Showers Pass shell that i picked up for a song from an REI clearance rack. it works pretty well; on the upper end of the temp. spectrum it can still be a little sweaty.

    below 40 degrees, i have a more heavy duty mountain hardware shell (not cycle specific clothing) that i also picked up for a song from an REI clearance rack (man i love those REI clearance racks!). it's triple layer gore-tex so it does get a little sweaty in there even in colder temps, but in 30 degree temps i like to have something super-waterproof as getting wet in a 36 degree rain for 15 miles can be miserable.
    Last edited by Steely Dan; 05-29-13 at 10:24 AM.
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  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Cycle rain cape.. its a cone shape, open under neath, hands legs and feet under the shelter..

    bike must have mudguards..

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    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Unless you have a drier or some kind of heater to dry out your wet clothes, getting soaked on the way in to work results in wet clothes going home, not fun and the recipe for chafing/blisters. Wet shoes are the worst IMO! Damp isn't so bad, that will dry out in a normal office, wet is the problem.

    A rainshell that is fully waterproof (as mine seems to be after a downpour last week) also doesn't breathe so on a warm day, you'll be soaked from sweat. On light rainy days, I'll just wear my "baggy" windshell that is water resistant which will keep me essentially dry but it does allow a bit of airflow so I'm not so hot or sweaty. On cool to cold days, my waterproof rainshell will be fine because the cool/cold air will prevent me from overheating too much.

    I will carry a second pair of shorts and socks on wet days but I'll wear booties to keep my shoes dry or just limit them to being just damp. I also have a helmet cover to keep my head a little drier which on cool to cold days, is appreciated.

    On cold (near freezing), rainy days, I might not go out because, on cool to warm days, I don't worry about my legs but on really cold days, I currently don't have anything that will keep them dry.

    Gloves, this is also an area that I haven't yet "solved" for cold days, for cool days, I'll just ride home in wet ones or bring a second pair. I haven't yet got them but you can get disposable latex gloves from your hardware store that, if you buy oversized, will fit over your cycling gloves and keep your hands dry and perhaps a little warmer too. A lot cheaper than proper waterproof cycling gloves (full fingered of course).

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  5. #5
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    I never managed to stay dry. It's either wet from the rain or wet from sweat. So, as other stated before it's a matter of temperature and personnal preference. Over 5 celcius I'll just put a heavy wool sweater and I can stay warm enough for my 27 kms one way commute. Below that I prefer to be wet from sweat so I put a rain coat with a lighter wool sweater.

    I work 10 hours/day plus dinner time so my clothes have 11 hours to hang dry, it's always been enough so far exept for the socks so I only bring spare socks when it rains. In winter time I put my sorel boots which are waterproof so no problem there.

    One more thing: don't listen to jrickards, he's a cold blood reptilian man
    Originally Posted by Leebo
    Headwind is like a hill without a soul. Just gear down and suffer.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member groovestew's Avatar
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    If your shoes get soaked, you can speed up drying them by stuffing crumpled newspaper inside, leave for an hour, remove, repeat with fresh newspaper. After a couple rounds, the newspaper isn't very effective anymore, so leave your shoes unstuffed to air dry. They will probably still be a bit damp at the end of the day, but not soaking.

  7. #7
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by groovestew View Post
    If your shoes get soaked, you can speed up drying them by stuffing crumpled newspaper inside, leave for an hour, remove, repeat with fresh newspaper. After a couple rounds, the newspaper isn't very effective anymore, so leave your shoes unstuffed to air dry. They will probably still be a bit damp at the end of the day, but not soaking.
    I'll try that, thanks for the tip.
    Originally Posted by Leebo
    Headwind is like a hill without a soul. Just gear down and suffer.
    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    Headwinds are hills dipped in evil!
    Tabarnac de vent!!!

  8. #8
    Member i RIDE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by groovestew View Post
    If your shoes get soaked, you can speed up drying them by stuffing crumpled newspaper inside, leave for an hour, remove, repeat with fresh newspaper. After a couple rounds, the newspaper isn't very effective anymore, so leave your shoes unstuffed to air dry. They will probably still be a bit damp at the end of the day, but not soaking.
    Great idea! I will have to try that!
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  9. #9
    Se˝ior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    60 degrees F and up, I just get wet. Below that, I use B&G cyclewear jacket, below about 50 I'll also use their rain pants. Both vented/breathable. bicycleclothing.com

    I think the jacket is $100, the pants $80. Both excellent for the money.

    I have some booties that do keep my feet dry, but wet feet don't bother me that much so unless it's really damned cold (like in the 30s) and raining hard, I just let them get wet, it's less bother than putting on the booties.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  10. #10
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    For freezing rain slick rain-resistant windbreaker and pants. Cap with visor under the helmet. The problem is not so much being wet but being wet with the cold wind hitting you so even in a deluge if I can block the wind off my skin I'm OK for the 30-45 minutes of the commute. In warm weather - with showers and lockers at work - I just accept the wet and ride as normal.

  11. #11
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Ride in the rain year round in Portland.

    From the top:

    Cap under the helmet (else rain gets in the vents).
    Good rain jacket (Showers Pass is great), with plenty of vents (armpit, back) and material that is totally waterproof (avoid the "water resistant" "breathables").
    Rain paints (again, water "proof" not water "resistant", I currently use Castelli as the Showers Pass pants I tried on were awfully baggy)
    Booties (fabric or neoprene), to keep your shoes dry.
    Gloves are nice too, just thin ones.

    Wrapped up like that, you can stand in the shower and stay dry. When riding, you will get damp from sweat, to a greater or lesser degree depending on how hard you ride, the temperature and humidity, how much of a "sweater" you are, whether you are wearing another layer under the jacket (tends to reduce the venting). I find my legs get damper than my torso, because no-one makes a rain pant with any venting.

    Finally, keeping a change of clothes at work always makes sense, for the days when you do get pretty wet riding in. Certainly a shirt and an extra pair of shoes.

    I also have a small desk fan that gradually dries out any dampness - it sits on the ground under my desk.

    I haven't tried a rain cape as has been suggested. Seems like a big drag (aero wise) but maybe it vents better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    for me, the issue of what to wear in the rain all comes down to temperature...
    Same thing, there's really no perfect solution.

    If it's cold out (below 50 degrees, including biking at 20 degrees fahrenheit), I have a full waterproof getup (it was expensive though):
    Gore Gore-Tex helmet cover - http://www.amazon.com/Gore-Helmet-Co.../dp/B001ELIYZC
    Shower's Pass Elite Jacket - http://www.showerspass.com/catalog/m...lite-21-jacket
    Shower's Pass Waterproof Rain pants - they don't sell the model I have any more, I think this is their current offering - http://www.showerspass.com/catalog/m...ertible-2-pant
    Gore Gore-Tex Cycling Gloves - Not sure which model, they're Goretex though, not windstopper, but they were also like $90
    Gore Gore-Tex Shoe Covers - Note sure which model again, but they're goretex not windstopper. To be honest, this is probably one area where you could save some money buy getting something that's waterproof but not breathable.

    Problem is - after all this expense, this getup still isn't any good if it's above 50 degrees. As other people have alluded to, even the most "breathable" raingear (which this is) will trap sweat inside it above 50 degrees and you'll end up just as soaking wet from sweat as you do from the rain.

    Above 50 degrees, my best suggestion is to wear clothing that keeps you warm if it gets wet - most synthetic bike gear does, and anything made of wool does as well. You cannot keep your feet dry - fenders help keep your wheel from splashing on them, but if it's raining no matter what you put on your feet/shoes, water will run down your leg and into your shoe anyways. The only way to keep your feet totally dry is to wear full gear so no water runs down your body, and that's just to hot above 50 degrees.

    Shower's Pass also makes a vest that's waterproof on the front for the 50-60 degrees stuff -
    http://www.showerspass.com/catalog/closeout/tri-vest

    Also, be sure to do research on the kind of tires you have - if they grip decently when it's wet. And the brake pads on your bike - some are much, much better in the wet than others. And as I mentioned, fenders help a lot if it *was* raining and there's water on the road but it's not raining any more. And they help keep road grime from getting thrown up onto you in any conditions - rain is just water and will dry, but road grime is pretty nasty to get rid of.

    The one other thing I've heard of is a "rain cape" - you look kind of silly, but it's open on the bottom (for airflow, and you need fenders for it to be effective) but waterproof on the top so it keeps the rain off of you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dramiscram View Post
    One more thing: don't listen to jrickards, he's a cold blood reptilian man
    I am NOT A MAN!!!

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    Yeah, fenders don't do anything if it's doing anything more than drizzling. They're more about keeping road grime off of you and the bike.

    If it's colder, I'll wear a light waterproof jacket and put newspaper bags around my shoes (it looks ridiculous, but it works). If it's warm enough, I'll just get wet and clean up at work. I'm changing clothes anyway, so being wet isn't too big of a deal. My clothes will usually dry out enough by the ride home.

    I will probably invest in a rain suit for next winter, or at least some waterproof gloves. Cold wind + wet gloves = frozen hands.


    Oh, and the newspaper-in-the-shoes trick really does work. The water wicks up from the shoes to the exposed part of the newspaper and evaporates. Wet shoes become dry shoes by the end of the work day.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I can't stay dry no matter what. but it's funny to keep the rain off only to generate my own water/wetness as sweat. when riding with rain gear it's a matter of layers, or in the summer, lack there-of. at some pint the cross-over equals out so you wear less and get wet from both sweat and rain. one trick you might enjoy is a clear cheap motel style shower cap over your helmet. it's also a good wind break in cold months.
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  16. #16
    George Krpan
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    Get a cheap rain suit and cut it off just below the elbows and just below the knees. Don't wear socks. Wear a cycling cap to keep the rain out of your eyes.

  17. #17
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    I get wet and then change my clothes after I get to work. I hang the wet clothes to dry so they are ready at the end of my work day for a ride home.... I don't believe there is such a thing as 100% waterproof and 100% breatheable at the same time. Even the most expensive gore-tex will get wet if it's out in the heavy rain long enough. Gore-tex is hot and sweaty as hell that's why most gore-tex jackets need long pit-zips for ventalation. It may be ok for walking or hiking but I would never use it for an intense physical activity such as cycling.

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I've been comfortable riding in the rain sometimes wearing two or three layers of wool. Synthetic might do the trick, too. I agree with those who use different approaches for different temperatures. When it's warm, I like mesh shoes or sandals, because my feet dry much more quickly than shoes. Also, cotton socks are the worst. I wear wool socks year-round, except when I wear sandals and no socks.

    Sometimes I get drenched, though. I would keep one or two complete sets of clothing at work, including socks and shoes.

    I like the newspaper-in-the-shoes trick. Salt or baking soda might work even better.

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    Shower's Pass rain jacket- a superior product that does the best job of anything I've ever had of protecting me from rain. I do have some design issues around the sleeves, the pockets and the hood but it has served me well. I bought it on sale at REI and it was still outrageously expensive.

    Gore Tex rain pants. (design issues around the fit and the Velcro fittings at the ankle) They also work great for keeping rain away.

    Gore Tex shoe covers.

    I call this my most expensive suit and have threatened to wear it to weddings and other gatherings.

  20. #20
    i'll probably break it 91MF's Avatar
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    wow great responses folks. confirmed my thinking that being dry in rain on the bike is somewhat of a myth and all you can do is regulate temperature and comfort. luckily being an automotive tech doesn't require the suit-and-tie/office experience after arrival so my second set of clothes requirement is low as i have a uniform at work.

    im going to be investing in a proper jacket as described and i suppose my old SIDI clipless mtb shoes will become the rain shoe when coupled with a cover. wool everything else is key.

    thanks so much everyone.



    *and noglider, i see where i could have been confusing. 'no winters' meant i dont ride in winter. i am located in the greater toronto area and we definitely have a winter time. commute is from ajax ontario into scarborough[east end toronto]. road quality is horrendous[700x23c and you will need to know how to bunnyhop potholes at +30kmh] and if you have ever been to toronto you know about the driver style[a 40 zone has an average traffic speed of about 65-70kmh and they ALL have the right of way and will let you know. plus the limited bike lanes i see during my commute are for parking when getting a coffee, basically i ride the tour de f*** you every day].
    Last edited by 91MF; 05-30-13 at 08:30 AM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 91MF View Post
    ... the limited bike lanes i see during my commute are for parking when getting a coffee, basically i ride the tour de f*** you every day].

  22. #22
    a.k.a., Point Five Dude Surrealdeal's Avatar
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    Sweating is an issue for me regardless of the weather conditions, so I don't even bother trying staying dry (but I do try to stay warm during transitional season riding). I'm fortunate enough to have enough personal space at my office where I can switch my bike over to clothesline mode and hang all my stuff to dry.

    P.S. as others have attested, the newspapers in the shoe trick works.
    Fat is sweat, on the wrong side of your skin.

  23. #23
    Senior Member groovestew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I like the newspaper-in-the-shoes trick. Salt or baking soda might work even better.
    I've found that shoes that have been soaked in the rain tend to bring out the stench absorbed by the liner...that's where baking soda comes in handy.

  24. #24
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Ok. Stuff you need to know:

    - Goretex does not breathe well in wet air - ie when you need it to! That's because it relies on air moisture gradient diffusion - ie moisture travels from damper air to wetter... so you have to get pretty sweaty before moisture leaves in the rain. (The British Army call goretex "Boil in the bag.")

    - Merino base layers are less smelly than anything else when sweaty. That's because bacteria find it hard to live in them, and the fatty oils that make sweaty REALLY nasty are scavenged by merino to repair its fibres

    - You can buy gear that does breathe in the wet, but you have need to import it from the UK. I wear a Paramo Velez Light (you do NOT want the non-Light for cycling!) and it protects against rain and wet by being super-wicking - ie it pushes water so fast using a "pump layer" fabric that rain can't get in and sweat gets pumped out. Riding fast in an English winter downpour is very strange - the rest of my body gets soaked, and my t-shirt gets wet - because mt armpits are pumping out sweat becaue I am going FAST - but the air around my torso is dry. So my torso says "I am in an air conditioned gym" and the rest of my body says "I am drowning!" At moderate speeds, you shouldn't have a wetness problem at all. Paramo also lasts forever (typically about 10 years) and cleans in a washing machine (you use a special wash and re-proof easily bought in the US) but it's too hot for summer (unless you are in the UK..)
    and you'd have to import it.

    The ideal set up would probably be Paramo + merino t-shirt and boxers to work; change boxers and t for cotton ones, then leave the merino your locker with a tumbler dryer sheet - I use a plastic box with some holes pierced so it can breathe. This way an expensive set of merino will last weeks if you want it to - it'll be like fresh when you take it out of the locker.

  25. #25
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by groovestew View Post
    I've found that shoes that have been soaked in the rain tend to bring out the stench absorbed by the liner...that's where baking soda comes in handy.
    You can spray your shoes with Nikwax. You get it outdoor stores and it matkes stuff water repellent while not reducing breathability. In fact, a pertex windshirt + Nikwax works pretty well as summer rain gear. Even jeans are reasonably water resistant when Nikwaxed, and they're a real worst case.

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