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  1. #1
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    Portlanders: do you ride in the rain?

    I understand that it may be a stupid question, but I am serious!

    I will be moving to Portland next month. I lived most of my life in NYC, where I was mainly a bike commuter. It wasn't until I moved to California almost three years ago that I embraced the spandex side of cycling.

    Now I really love cycling. I especially love climbing: the steeper the hill, the better. However, aren't these steep hills treacherous under wet conditions? Both ascending and descending. Whenever it rains around here (which is almost never), I simply do not ride and wait for the next day. I can see myself returning to my commuting in the (light) rain past, but I can't imagine doing some serious road biking like a solo century.

    Also, how far do I have to travel from Portland to do 20+ mile hilly rides?

    Excited about moving though!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    If you won't ride in the rain, you'll have 2 months of riding every year.

    You just need to go a little more slowly, avoid things like metal grates, think about using fenders (rear tire at least), and embrace wool. You can't do screaming descents but you can negotiate a downhill safely.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dfrost's Avatar
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    You won't have to leave the city limits (Portland or here in Seattle) to do 20+ mile hilly rides. I can do a 25-mile ride never leaving my neighborhood of West Seattle that includes at least 7 steep (>8%) hills, never being more than 3-4 miles from home. They're not long climbs, but they do get the heart rate up!

    When I moved to Seattle from Denver, I was amazed that my Rocky Mountain climbing gears were not low enough for the in-city hills all around me. In Portland, going west of downtown will involve plenty of hills. Here in Seattle, my commute can easily involve hills of 10-15%, and steeper hills are readily available all over the city and surrounding areas.

    Regarding the the original question of wet riding. I don't choose to leave home when it's raining, but ride at least a few days every month of the year. Late October and November can be challenging, however. Since the end of April to now, I've commuted at least half the days, and never really got wet (yet - I bailed on the bike commute today when it started spitting within a few blocks of home). I expect (and hope) that will be true for at least another 1.5 months. I do have a bike with fenders installed, however, so I can use that when the roads are wet. Definitely makes for a more pleasant ride for those days, but the no-fender bike gets most of the miles. BTW, our PNW rain is much more typically of the light, misty type, not downpours, although those certainly can happen.

  4. #4
    Senior Member adventurepdx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    If you won't ride in the rain, you'll have 2 months of riding every year.

    You just need to go a little more slowly, avoid things like metal grates, think about using fenders (rear tire at least), and embrace wool. You can't do screaming descents but you can negotiate a downhill safely.
    What Seattle Forrest said.

    To answer the OPs question: I do live in Portland, and do ride in the rain. You just need to adjust to the conditions. Fenders are a good idea. And like DFrost said, you won't have to leave the city limits of Portland to do a hilly ride. The Ronde PDX happens yearly, and the route barely ever leaves the city limits. They get about 5000 feet of climbing in about 50 miles.
    RondePDX
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Some of this might be interesting: Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Search results for bike

    I'll join AdventurePdx and DFrost in saying that you can find plenty of hilly rides within town out here. And that city riding can be a lot of fun. So many parks, neighborhoods, viewpoints, and other great stuff. Restaurants with outdoor seating are great after 30 miles when you still have a while to go to get home.

    If I were in Portland, I'd be riding the old highway through the Columbia River Gorge (actually living in Seattle I'm going to be driving down to ride it anyway), Crater Lake, McKenzie Pass, lots of stuff outside Bend, and lots of other places in the Cascades. The scenery is incredible.

    Finally, you might take up skiing or snowshoeing. The really bleak and dreary days in the lowlands are dry and snowy up high. And we get this thing where a layer of cold air gets trapped under warmer air, so it will be foggy in town but sunny in the mountains.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  6. #6
    Senior Member stayfed's Avatar
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    I just moved from NYC a couple months ago. Your in for a treat! The cycling in Portland is unbelievable and especially if you like climbing like I do. Check out my rides on Strava to give you an idea what to expect : Christopher San Agustin | Cyclist on Strava

    Basically you can shred some serious climbs and be home within an hour if you want! Council Crest, Cornell, 53rd, Rock Creek, Skyline, Saltzman, Germantown and the list goes on!

    Also there are some short and ultra steep climbs here that are really really tough. 20% + gradients that will brake you if your not strong enough. College is my favorite followed by Brynwood. I have some secret climbs in NYC that come close but these are truly on another level of steepness.

    Enjoy!

  7. #7
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    Hilly ride in Portland??!! We've got you covered!

    (sorry, could not embed video for some reason)

  8. #8
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    As a rider who spent many a decade in CA prior to coming to OR, I know what the OP means by slick rain conditions. In areas that have infrequent rain, hydrophobic material builds up on the road surface. When rain finally happens, these oils get lifted up onto the surface of the water, which creates a friction-free interface where the rubber would have otherwise met the road. Oil on water doesn't provide very good friction. Here in OR, once our rainy season begins all that crud from the cars is quickly washed into our waterways and we don't have that same traction issue. It's not quite as good as dry pavement, but it's a world away from what you've been experiencing in Monterey. Just beware the first rain after a long dry spell and you should be good to go.

  9. #9
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I moved to Portland from the Bay Area about 8 years ago. I'd previously lived in Los Angeles as well, was a 20-year Californian.

    On my first day in Portland, I'm driving around in my flashy California car. I get a $400 speeding ticket for taking the Burnside bridge at 50 mph. Then it starts raining. I see disturbing behavior. People are walking, no hats, no umbrellas, not even raingear, in the rain. At bus stops, the bus shelter is dry and empty, while people stand waiting outside the shelter, bare headed and getting rained on. I then realized what a grim backwater I'd moved to. Out here in the remote Northwest wilderness, Portlanders are so isolated, so malnourished and so inbred, that most of them are frankly r e t a r d e d. They don't know enough to come in, out of the rain, and instead stand there, dumb and dripping, like livestock in the fields. I became terrified that, like turkeys, these people might all look up at the sky to find the source of the water and, mouths agape, drown right there on the sidewalk. I drove back to my corporate apartment and wept for my lost California.

    Now I, too, stand bareheaded and dripping in the rain. My kids look at umbrellas and see tourists. I don't drive the Porsche anymore. I live on the pretty tree-lined neighborhood that I happened on during that rainy evening drive. And I ride my bike to work everyday, rain (mostly) or shine (occasionally), and go out on dark, blowing, raining weekend mornings for exhilarating man-against-nature rides.

    Basically, you get used to it. Your wardrobe subtly shifts, the pastel linen and pima cotton go away, the dark fleece and hairy wool creep in. Your hair gets thicker, like the local vegetation. Eyebrows grow, shielding your eyes from rain. Moss coats your ears, your exposed skin shrinks, hair grows on your face. Bigfoot-like, you prowl the Cascade rainforest.

    Budget for some good raingear when you arrive. For commuter-ish riding, Showers Pass is great, and a local Portland company, the spiritual heir to (and inspired copier of) the late, great Burley rain jackets. For roadie-ish riding, many choices but I like Castelli (Gabba, baby!). Jacket, rainpants, booties, and a cycling cap under the helmet, and you are ready for anything.

    Fenders are a must. For the roadbike, I use Crud Roadracers. A real fiddle to set up but then they are effective and almost weightless. For the commute bike, there are many wide plastic choices, I use the slim PDW Full Metal Fenders.

    Oh, and just a piece of non-bike-related advice - replace every light bulb in your place with the brightest full-spectrum or daylight spectrum bulbs that will fit. Either incandescent or CFL, they make both kinds. "SAD" is real (look it up, Seasonal Affective Disorder). It took a couple years before I noticed it, then I was pretty affected for one winter, until I said screw it to saving electricity. At work I have six 100 watt daylight spectrum bulbs over my desk . . . helps with the mood, and the tan :-)
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  10. #10
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    On my first day in Portland, I'm driving around in my flashy California car. I get a $400 speeding ticket for taking the Burnside bridge at 50 mph. Then it starts raining. I see disturbing behavior. People are walking, no hats, no umbrellas, not even raingear, in the rain. At bus stops, the bus shelter is dry and empty, while people stand waiting outside the shelter, bare headed and getting rained on. I then realized what a grim backwater I'd moved to. Out here in the remote Northwest wilderness, Portlanders are so isolated, so malnourished and so inbred, that most of them are frankly r e t a r d e d. They don't know enough to come in, out of the rain, and instead stand there, dumb and dripping, like livestock in the fields. I became terrified that, like turkeys, these people might all look up at the sky to find the source of the water and, mouths agape, drown right there on the sidewalk.
    That's a great description! I don't go to Portland but it's certainly like that where I live. My parents moved me over to this side over 30 years ago from Prineville and I still haven't adapted like the natives. I use rain gear.
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  11. #11
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    It seems most people who bike commute and ride recreationally have a rain bike with fenders and a fair weather bike. Honestly, the rain around here is generally a drizzle (at least that’s true for Seattle).

    I commute 5 days per week and I really don’t find the rain to be much of an issue. Usually, twice per week I take the long way to work and as others have suggested, there are plenty of hills in both Seattle and Portland.

    Even in the fall, winter, and spring I can get plenty of rides in without getting rained on. Granted, when spring rolls around and I see that yellow thing in the sky, it puts a smile on my face.

    As previously suggested, fenders are a must as well as decent rain gear. I second the Shower’s Pass rain jacket, the only thing wrong with that jacket is everyone has one.

  12. #12
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    Shower's Pass is also local and they have yearly warehouse sales and you can pick up sweet gear for a great price. I ride in the rain but I will admit that I won't start a ride if it's raining. I don't care if I get rained on, but I just can't convince myself to start riding when it's just ugly out. This year I'm going to change that as I've bought some sweet rain boots. I've not been walking since May since I broke my leg really bad so I'm going to use riding to get back in shape.

    Lots of variety as others have said. Whatever you'd like to ride is all around us.
    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I'm out on the Coast where the rain comes in First usually.. been here 17 years .. moved after packing my small things in storage
    to take an Irish-Scottish bike tour ..


    Just bought a house last year, here, @ probably 25% of what one would cost in PDX..

    Of course Moving from NYC, NY.. PDX will feel cheaper .. Its all relativity..
    Having the City cops shoot people will feel like home..


    Duds..
    I've got a showers pass jacket , but I tend to put on the neon lime one a Parka with the ANSI wide reflective stripes , and live in a much smaller town.
    sticking out like a UK traffic cop or tow truck driver is better than fashionable..

    before I moved to older side of the hill, I had a longer ride , on the windward west slope for the South west storms.

    the Grundens Rain Cape buy made heavy Marine squalls reasonably comfortable,

    because my hands and legs were under the awning formed by my Cape and 'dry' ..


    I travel to the PDX VA Hospital regularly The Terwilliger road itself is a moderate climb .. you still have the roads with
    big bucks houses behind the VAMC/ OHSU Pill hill" for more in-city hill climbing .


    BTW Showers pass no longer sews their stuff, it off-shored .. LBS here sells it .
    providing the margin for the dealers, made them go to Asia to get the sewing jobs there

    Only when they sold direct , could they hire locals . Burly struggled to Do that sell to dealers, sew in Eugene, they filed for bankruptcy.

    worker-owned CoOp .. sewing room crew got = pay.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-25-14 at 11:39 AM.

  14. #14
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    Thanks to all that have responded and especially for not thinking that I am some privileged idiot! I am grateful of the amazing riding conditions where I currently live, but it is at the expense of other aspects of my life. Nowhere is perfect.

    Luckily for me, my bike has wide forks and can accommodate fenders. One of the few carbon fiber bikes that can. I am more worried about by road biking and not commuting.

    You can't do screaming descents but you can negotiate a downhill safely.
    No screaming descents? What's the point of biking then? I was disappointed when I only hit a max speed of 48.3mi/h today. I have done 50+ on that one particular section before.

    Finally, you might take up skiing or snowshoeing.
    Oh hell no! We moved to California to get away from the snow. I haven't seen snow or been in below freezing weather in years. If it is snowy outside, I will simply retreat indoors with a glass of bourbon. Ironically, when I was in Portland last year during Easter and I was looking at Mt. Hood from a distance thinking "this is the closest I have been to snow in years".

    The cycling in Portland is unbelievable and especially if you like climbing like I do. Check out my rides on Strava to give you an idea what to expect
    You have done much more miles than I have done this year, but I almost match you in elevation gain. I am averaging 86 feet of climbing per mile for the year so far. One ride was 115 miles, 15000 feet. We should meet up.

    Hilly ride in Portland??!! We've got you covered!
    OMG, the amount of clothing some of the riders have! Ha!

    As a rider who spent many a decade in CA prior to coming to OR, I know what the OP means by slick rain conditions. In areas that have infrequent rain, hydrophobic material builds up on the road surface. When rain finally happens, these oils get lifted up onto the surface of the water, which creates a friction-free interface where the rubber would have otherwise met the road. Oil on water doesn't provide very good friction.
    You absolutely nailed it. That effect is what I am worried about. Occasionally, I will bike on a road that is hilly with lots of trees, so there is no direct sunlight. Monterey never gets hot, so the moisture doesn't go anywhere. One of the few times I have fallen was on such a patch. My back wheel was spinning since it had no traction. Ended up shredding the tire.

    and a cycling cap under the helmet
    Wait a second, cycling caps can be worn while cycling? I thought they were just something hispters wore while riding fixies. The only time I wear mine is post century ride when my hair is all messed up, but I need to be out in public.

    I did mention Mt. Hood. How does on get up there? What is the most popular route? I looked it up on Strava and there weren't many riders that did the big segments, so I am guessing those were mountain bikers. During what time of year can I make the ride?

  15. #15
    AAZ
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    Just make sure you go little slower in the rain, get fenders for your front tire and you'll be good. Also, find tires you like.

  16. #16
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    Last year 205 People fell off their bikes after slipping on slugs in Portland and drowned .
    V

  17. #17
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    Careful - it starts tonight (apparently).
    "The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson

    '11 Fuji SL - '04 Bianchi Imola - '99 Gary Fisher Big Sur

  18. #18
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    Do not go out in Portland if it is snowing, however.


  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    K 5 is one of the Seattle stations .. they aren't exactly paragons of winter driving skill, there, Either..

  20. #20
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The rear fender is to keep your back dry. The front fender is to keep your feet dry. You need both.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  21. #21
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    Ok plenty of rain this morning. More on the way. I found that if you have a minimalist sort of ideal about fenders, a narrow seat pack that is thin enough to go between the rear forks of the seat stay makes a great pseudo fender for blocking water. BUT a fender like a blade is mo- better!
    Some one should start a accumulation inches of rain rode in thread.
    Velocity

  22. #22
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    As usual, there are almost no bikes to be seen in Eugene now that the rains have started. On the bright side, the flocks of wide women three-across have abandoned the bike paths, perhaps due to the half-foot of standing water.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    It started coming down in sheets last night once I got about a mile away from home. I thought about turning back, but it was a good night to be out on the bike. I kept going by street lamps and seeing the rain drops light up under them, rode through some empty parks, and had a good time.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  24. #24
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    It was pouring buckets at about 6:30 am and I was looking forward to riding in. But it stopped and was only a drizzle by leaving home time.

    I enjoy the riding in the rain. Just remember rim brakes take longer to stop.

  25. #25
    Senior Member jgadamski's Avatar
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    methinks there is too much agony on this thread.
    You can ride on rainy days. Most 'rainy' days are showery days. On really crappy days, there is good transit if it proves too much. If you are lucky, you can bring your bike with you on the bus or Max. Or leave it locked up safely at work. ( i do this occasionally). You might get 15 crappy days a year. As long as you live on the eastside, you won't have many hills to deal with so you wont sweat out on the inside of the rain gear and arrive as nasty as if you had no rain gear. You can always tell summer in Oregon, the rain is warmer. Deal with it or stay in NYC.

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