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Commute in rain?

Old 11-04-21, 03:29 PM
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burritos
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Commute in rain?

Doesn't rain much here in Socal. Used just drive when it did. But in the last 2 downpours I just put my work clothes in plastic. Wore shorts and a sleeveless to minimize soakage. Quite exhilarating. I recommend it. Just be a little bit more vigilant I suppose.
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Old 11-04-21, 04:37 PM
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Be a LOT more vigilant. Drivers don't expect some crazy person out riding a bicycle in the rain, so they look even less for them than they normally do. If you're going to ride sleeveless, make certain your shirt is some hi-vis color. Don't forget your blinking lights (front and rear) either.
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Old 11-04-21, 05:16 PM
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Trying to stay dry is pointless. The inside of any jacket will get drenched in sweat and you're going to get splashed with every car going through puddles.

And make extra sure you're visible. Turn on all your lights and wear all your reflectors.
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Old 11-04-21, 05:48 PM
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One of the bigger issues I dealt with when I rode in SoCal in the rain was the oil that washed toward the outside edge of roadway, and was especially slippery at intersections. It rains so infrequently that the gook didn't wash off very often. And yeah trying to stay dry was pointless because it was usually too warm to wear a jacket.
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Old 11-04-21, 06:44 PM
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With a worn chain?!?!?
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Old 11-05-21, 07:04 AM
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I generally didn't bike if the forecast was for rain here in MN, given the long commute. I certainly did get caught on occasion. The biggest annoyance was the condition of the bike afterward. Winter sand gets swept up in the spring, but the fine sand doesn't. The water flushes that out of the cracks and pits and makes a mess out of the bike.
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Old 11-05-21, 07:18 AM
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It rains for a past time in England in the winter (and sometimes during other parts of the year). If I didn't ride to work in the rain, I would barely commute by bike. Work clothes in my waterproof saddlebag, rain jacket, velotoze, and bar mitts and I'm good to go. Drying station set-up at work so my cycling kit is dry for the ride home. We're coming into winter and it's dark by the time I get home, so 3 x rear lights (one solid on my saddle bag, 2 x flashing on the right seat stay, good front light, set solid), plus reflective patches on clothing, shoes, and bike (better than hi-vis).
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Old 11-05-21, 08:06 AM
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Agree with OP, riding in a warm rain is fun! Especially after a hot day, it's like free sweat to cool you off.
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Old 11-05-21, 08:27 AM
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YES!
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Old 11-06-21, 06:54 AM
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It rains most afternoons during the summer in Central Florida and brings another danger to bicycling in the rain - lightning. Thunderstorms literally pop up anywhere in a summer afternoon as a result of the collision of winds from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I am pretty good at predicating the arrival of such storms using the local radars and weather apps up to about an hour into the future. I try try to time my departures accordingly. But, my commute home is almost 1.5 hours and I often get caught in storms with lightning all around. Best to just take cover and wait such storms out.
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Old 11-06-21, 12:11 PM
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70F and rain and 40F with rain are two different animals.
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Old 11-07-21, 05:15 AM
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I used to dislike riding in the rain because of the extra maintenance of cleaning and lubing the chain etc. Once I got a Pinion/Gates system, I ride rain or shine, many times shirtless if not too cold. Of course, lights on all sides and the usual crash alerts etc.
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Old 11-07-21, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Just be a little bit more vigilant I suppose.
yes auto driver visibility suffers so I hope you have good lites front & rear w/ some side visibility
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Old 11-08-21, 10:57 AM
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Opinions all over the place on this one. As usual. Taken on its face, the o.p. question: Commute in rain? Well, of course. Rain, sleet, gloom of night ... whatever it takes, right? Otherwise, bye bye job. Clearly the question assumes the cycling commuter has bail-out option for when it rains. Most do. We don't. So, yes, we commute my wife (blind) on a tandem in the morning before the buses start running and she takes the bus home. Rain or shine. Only 3x/wk since Covid but it was 5x/wk before The Pandemic. The bike lanes are full of wet leaves this time of year and we recently moved two miles further from her job doubling our commute. The bike lanes are non-existent for the first half of our commute and the drivers 'much' less friendly than closer to the city center but when there is no other option it's amazing what can get done. FWIW.
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Old 11-08-21, 12:31 PM
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I've commuted year 'round in Boston, Ann Arbor, the Bay area, Seattle and Portland. For those first three locations, I didn't own a car or use public transportation. The last two, commuted up to 17 miles each way on bike three days a week. So, a lot of wet roads, often wet skies. And every possible combination of road surface and traction.

The vast majority of my wet commuting was done on workhorse fix gears with fenders and lock. Set up drop bar and excellent brakes front and rear. Sewups - training grade in summer, cyclocross below freezing - until 2000. Now it's 28c Paselas and winter specific non-studded clinchers.

The real secret is the fix gear. Once you learn it and become fully comfortable, they are radically easier to keep upright in marginal conditions. (It's a secret that is very easy to keep. I can get. up on rooftops and holler the advantages and nobody will hear it.) Fix gears solve two other issues also. Drive train issues from wet and grit. They are so simple it takes a lot to kill them. They run just fine, even with absolutely dry chain (lubrication-wise) and a few frozen links. (Just slide the wheel forward to get chain slack back.) Another plus: in snow and ice, that spill to the right side never kills the drive train. If the wheels turn, it will get you home.

My Boston and Ann Arbor days were also my racing days. My "B" bike was a sewupped UO-8 with the fix gear. At the end of March, hubs, HS and BB got repacked and new rims laced on. December, the cyclocross tires. First minor rim dents happened in January. Seriously funky in February. By March, thewy were irregular polygons. Great thing about sewups and Mafac Racers? Neither cared! Then that rebuild and new rims and rubber. Ahhh! Between December and March, I did almost nothing for the bike beyond oiling the chain and brakes.

Edit: I forgot - the essential piece for both me and the bike - a real front fender flap, one that comes way down. The old Blummel fenders came with them though eventually they needed replacement. I keep my eyes open for quality stiff sheet plastic. In the '90s it was mylar when the really stiff stuff was what engineer/graphic folk used. 1999 I scored full sheets of thinner architectural stuff for presentations. Doubled up with the edges taped with packing or duct tape, the flaps were stiff and folded up easily without damage when the loaded bike was wheeled carelessly off the sidewalk.

When I buy fenders, the first thing I do is install a good flap. (After removing the toy flaps on fenders like the Planet Bikes.) I buy yellow or white fenders if offered. (Why these are so hard to find in road widths is beyond me. The folk who ride county roads for miles in the low light winters are the racers.)

Last edited by 79pmooney; 11-08-21 at 12:50 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 11-09-21, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
The real secret is the fix gear. Once you learn it and become fully comfortable, they are radically easier to keep upright in marginal conditions.
You are wrong, of course, and thankfully so, because, if in fact you were correct ... well we'd all (except you) be screwed, wouldn't we. People have been keeping multi-gear bikes upright in blizzard conditions for decades. Riding fixed because of perceived improvement in bike handling flies in the face of all that success on 'normal' drivetrains. Riding fixed because the complexity and hassle of everything else is just too much is a little too much to take seriously.
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Old 11-10-21, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
You are wrong, of course, and thankfully so, because, if in fact you were correct ... well we'd all (except you) be screwed, wouldn't we. People have been keeping multi-gear bikes upright in blizzard conditions for decades. Riding fixed because of perceived improvement in bike handling flies in the face of all that success on 'normal' drivetrains. Riding fixed because the complexity and hassle of everything else is just too much is a little too much to take seriously.
When I was a kid, I would ride my 10 speed Huffy MTN Bike to school and back home daily regardless of weather conditions. I lived 2.5 miles from school. The first 1.5 miles was down hill on an aggressive gravel road, the last mile was a relatively straight state road that was kind of busy in the morning and afternoons. I never went down while the road conditions were bad, only when the pavement was hot and I would get to much speed where the gravel and the blacktop met.
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Old 11-11-21, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RonE View Post
It rains most afternoons during the summer in Central Florida and brings another danger to bicycling in the rain - lightning. Thunderstorms literally pop up anywhere in a summer afternoon as a result of the collision of winds from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I am pretty good at predicating the arrival of such storms using the local radars and weather apps up to about an hour into the future. I try try to time my departures accordingly. But, my commute home is almost 1.5 hours and I often get caught in storms with lightning all around. Best to just take cover and wait such storms out.
I commuted in Central FL for about 15 years ... but that was quite a while ago. My commutes were generally under an hour .... with your longer ride, you were much more at the mercy of the weather (and of course, you can't change when the shift ends ... )

Most of those storms blew through fast enough though. The killers were late-fall/winter rain fronts that lasted three or four days and then got pushed through by cold fronts,, so I'd get out of work after three sodden days and it would 42 degrees or something and my gear would still be damp.

Occasional light shower on an 85-degree day? Can you erven call that "weather?" It is more like a gift from nature. Try getting to work the day before a hurricane hits ....
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Old 11-19-21, 11:54 AM
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Personally: Big No - too slippery - risk of crashing
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Old 11-20-21, 06:52 AM
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I generally opt for the car if its raining. Its not because of the water but because of visibility to motorists and darkness. I was hit once - in the rain. The driver, while terribly sorry, said she never saw me through rain covered windows.
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Old 11-28-21, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Trying to stay dry is pointless.
Yeah, pretty much. You're gonna get wet from the inside out or outside in. It's most important to maintain vision. A ball cap under one's helmet keeps rain out of one's eyes pretty effectively. Unless it's warm weather wear wool. Merino wool is the best. It's light and will hold heat when wet. If it's cold wear a wind breaker and long sleeve merino crew neck. Rain is why I always kept a complete change of clothes at work. One of the first axioms I learned when commuting is, "Never commute in your work clothes or work in your commuting clothes." How one tailors that is specific to one's work and commuting realities. Having daylight visible lighting is a given.

Last edited by GhenghisKahn; 11-28-21 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 11-29-21, 09:18 PM
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I'm a weather weenie; when it rains, it's usually mid-50's and below, and I whip out my bus pass.
I do occasionally miss L.A.'s warm rain.
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Old 11-29-21, 10:27 PM
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I'm not going to say I prefer riding in the rain, but I enjoy riding, don't own a car, and live in the PNW. All year, all weather - until the pandemic, that is.

Shirt sleeves and shorts is great, but it's usually 50F here when the rains come.
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Old 11-29-21, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I'm not going to say I prefer riding in the rain, but I enjoy riding, don't own a car, and live in the PNW. All year, all weather - until the pandemic, that is.

Shirt sleeves and shorts is great, but it's usually 50F here when the rains come.
Same here! Lloyd Center to Buckman commute, now (2mo.) Rose City Park to Buckman commute. Pandemic hasn't changed that. If anything, it makes taking the bus less appealing. Outbound leg in the morning is in darkness. All the leaves in the bike lanes give the headlights a workout. In fact, the alarm just went off telling me that my battery packs are charged for tomorrows ride.
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Old 12-08-21, 02:50 PM
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I usually do ride in the rain if I'm scheduled to ride. Only heavy rain when I set out (or a forecast of heavy rain when I'm schedule to return) will keep me off the bike.

Of course, when it's 33F and raining and blowing hard, that's about the worst condition to ride in, possibly worse than snow.
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