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Old 05-06-12, 05:49 PM   #1
rideon7
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Montana in July. Thunderstorms. Raingear?

I'll be heading to Montana in mid-July to do a multi-day, mountain bike ride in the Rockies. It's supported, so I don't have to worry about and hauling my gear and cooking, just ride every day and set up my tent when I arrive at each day's destination.

Seems Montana has summer thunderstorms, especially in the mountains. I've heard conflicting information about them, for example, they come and go quickly, or they're drenching downpours that can last for a long time, so I'm thinking of raingear, which I'll carry in a pannier on the bike. The range of raingear available now is huge, basically all claiming to keep out the rain and let through the sweat. I'm thinking of just getting a poncho, something like the one shown below for about $30.00. Or I could go for an actual rain jacket, though they're a lot more expensive. The Montbell jacket below is $179. I live in central Washington where it does not rain much. In fact, I don't currently own any raingear and have never missed having it. As far as my preferences go for gear, I tend more toward the pragmatic than the drool factor.

Anybody familiar with Montana weather in the Rockies in July? Thunderstorms? Mtn. biking there in the summer?

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Old 05-06-12, 06:27 PM   #2
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I grew up in MT and remember rain as infrequent and of short duration.
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Old 05-06-12, 06:31 PM   #3
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I grew up in MT and remember rain as infrequent and of short duration.
But also capable of heavy downpours.
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Old 05-06-12, 09:46 PM   #4
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But also capable of heavy downpours.
I did see a few cloudbursts in my 17 years living there, but I don't recommend riding in one of those. The humidity is low enough that riding through a shower will allow a rider to dry before becoming miserable.
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Old 05-07-12, 12:35 AM   #5
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It rains over here and I have rain gear.The goretex jacket and a couple of others. My favourite one for summer is a Waterproof top made of "Nylon" type material that has a water prrof coating. Vents under the arms- down the sides and across the back. And a full length zip. I got it from a Hiking shop and is made by Karrimor but must be others about. It is also windproof which is a bonus up on the hills. The big bonus is that it is lightweight and will fold up and fit into a jersey pocket. I know it doesn'y breath but the zips make up for that but when it does rain- I stay dry - even with the vents fully open. More important for me though are the waterproof socks for summer. Sealskinz and they work.

But if prolongued rain is forecast then it is the Goretex. Not too heavy but a bit hot if it is just Showers.
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Old 05-07-12, 05:32 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for the thoughts on the raingear. No decisions yet. Perhaps I'll drop into an LBS in Kalispell (town near the start point) and ask what they think as well. Stapfam--am not sure Karrimor products are available here but will check. Cheers.
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Old 05-07-12, 09:43 AM   #7
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I did a Montana Tour during the first week in July about 4 years ago. All I remember it was HOT (105+ each day) and extremely windy. But I was riding on the road in the "flatlands" (if there is such a thing). I have done MTB rides where it rains. I usually carried a trash bag because most rain gear is so heavy and bulky. Or a cheap plastic poncho that folds up and is stored in a pouch. If it gets weird and moldy, toss it after the ride...
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Old 05-07-12, 10:57 AM   #8
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Weather in the summer in Montana can range from over 100 degrees F in the flatland to freezing on the passes in the early hours. Definitely be prepared for thunderstorms. I've even seen snow in the mountains in July near Butte and Bozeman and hailstorms in Billings. I've still got family in Montana. I've never really done any riding there though. It is beautiful country. If you're camping in the mountains remember it's bear and mountain lion country. Follow all the usual precautions.
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Old 05-07-12, 12:00 PM   #9
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As well, if you are above 5,000 ft and get higher, which I would certainly expect on a mt. bike trip, it gets COLD very quick - like 40's and 50's, during and after a rain, till the sun pokes thru again. You can freeze your butt off during that transition and are susceptible to hypothermia if wet.

I always packed rain gear, as well as some polypro glove liners, a light hat and a light polypro top, when out in the outback on trips in the Rockies, road or mountain. When I did the Bike Tour of Colorado ('99) it rained every morning that year. I had full rain suit, polypro hat, gloves and top,. as well as leg warmers. I needed all of this stuff on 3 of the days. In short, if you have room int he pannier, pack it. better to have it when you need it, then get sagged due to hypothermia.
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Old 05-08-12, 06:33 AM   #10
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Looks like I'm going to have to be ready for a bit of everything. I will be in the high country, so high-country conditions are what my preparations will center on. I did the Cycle Montana with Adventure Cycling last summer. We had good weather the whole trip; rain wasn't an issue. I do remember that it rained a bit one night and the temps. dropped significantly, but it was all good again by the morning. Still looking at all the possibilities for wet weather gear. Thanks for all the replies!
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Old 05-08-12, 07:20 AM   #11
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Here in CO, anything can happen, including snow/hail/cold rain on the high passes and 100 degrees in places like Denver, Grand Junction (both about 5,000 feet), etc.

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Old 05-08-12, 07:56 PM   #12
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Looks like I'm going to have to be ready for a bit of everything. I will be in the high country, so high-country conditions are what my preparations will center on. I did the Cycle Montana with Adventure Cycling last summer. We had good weather the whole trip; rain wasn't an issue. I do remember that it rained a bit one night and the temps. dropped significantly, but it was all good again by the morning. Still looking at all the possibilities for wet weather gear. Thanks for all the replies!
Brad, Brad...
What about the big thunderstorm as we arrived in Butte? And there was a bit of rain the first afternoon coming in to Ennis. You are right though that the conditions were generally good. I like the poncho idea. Your wool clothing would probably be pretty handy too, as would something to keep your head dry. Can your bike take fenders like those clip on plastic jobs? (My guess is that it's more likely you will have to deal with a passing storm than an all-day rain... but improbable stuff does happen.) Don't forget your Cliff Bar cap... I want one of those!

Sorry our paths won't cross again this year... maybe next!
Don
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Old 05-08-12, 08:19 PM   #13
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Perhaps I'll drop into an LBS in Kalispell (town near the start point) and ask what they think as well.
The two best LBS in the valley:
http://www.wheatonscycle.com/

http://glaciercyclery.com/
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Old 05-09-12, 07:30 AM   #14
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I'd bet the rain is very cold also. Did a lot of dirt bike rides in Colorado and was always amazed at how cold the water in a rain shower is. But we could carry REAL rain gear. On a bike that would be miserable!
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Old 05-10-12, 07:14 PM   #15
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Don--
Rain in Ennis? Those few sprinkles?! That wasn't rain. I grew up in western Oregon and I know for rain! And the storm in Butte? You mean the one that tore the awning off the massage ladies' RV, when people were sheltering under the truck? By the time that hit I was happily ensconced in my hotel room (remember, it was the start of a rest day). Your point, though, is well taken. Rain happens in Montana.

Have a great road ride there this summer!

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Brad, Brad...
What about the big thunderstorm as we arrived in Butte? And there was a bit of rain the first afternoon coming in to Ennis. You are right though that the conditions were generally good. I like the poncho idea. Your wool clothing would probably be pretty handy too, as would something to keep your head dry. Can your bike take fenders like those clip on plastic jobs? (My guess is that it's more likely you will have to deal with a passing storm than an all-day rain... but improbable stuff does happen.) Don't forget your Cliff Bar cap... I want one of those!

Sorry our paths won't cross again this year... maybe next!
Don
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Old 05-10-12, 07:16 PM   #16
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Thanks very much for the info. I will drop into one or both of those stores. Kalispell usaed to be a stomping grounds of mine, but that was a *long* time ago. No doubt it's changed *a lot.*
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