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1st time commute in rain - what to look for, what extra to bring?

Old 09-25-05, 08:23 PM
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1st time commute in rain - what to look for, what extra to bring?

It looks like it's going to rain here in L.A. tomorrow - isolated thunderstorms. I haven't ridden in rain before, so what should I look out for? (I don't even ride my motorcycle when it's raining out.) I've got a hybrid bike so no skinny tires here. Don't ride over metal because it's very slippery? Extra braking distance? Extra visibility?

Also, is there anything extra that I should bring to the office with me? I've got waterproof covers for my Arkel panniers so my clothes should be dry. But I've only got UnderArmor, shorts, jersey, and forearm & foreleg warmers, so I guess I'll be soaked by the time I get there. And I park my bike in my cubicle.
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Old 09-25-05, 08:26 PM
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Watch out for painted lines on the roads, they can be very slick.

Rain-x on the glasses does wonders.
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Old 09-25-05, 08:29 PM
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Ziplocs
Just be careful on turning
Be nice if you had some Rain Gear, I got a good pair of waterproof pants (45.00) and a cheap Performance Rain Coat (9.99).. My Feet and Ankles could use some protection, like Rubber Overshoes and Gators. I just won an auction on Gator Brand Booties... so I guess I will see how those work.
 
Old 09-26-05, 04:48 AM
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If you are in LA, the rain won't be so cold, so don't over-dress. It will be humid.

You will need a dry pair of shoes when you arrive. Chances are, your pants will get wet - especially around your ankles. So you would be well advised to pack dry pants.

Good luck. It isn't so bad riding in the rain.
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Old 09-26-05, 05:36 AM
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If you can get a locker in work, do, and keep your working clothes in there. If you're cycling home again it takes too long for clothes to dry in a locker so try hanging them in your cubicle - proper dryflo gear dries quickly once it's aired... nothing worse than putting cold wet gear on for the cycle home!

Lorcán.
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Old 09-26-05, 06:41 AM
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I found suitable if somewhat flimsy rain gear (jacket and pants) for $25 each at the local bike shop. It looks very dorky, and no "real" biker would do it, but I wear waterproof six-inch hiking boots as my biking shoes. The rain pants overlap the tops of the boots, so the only real moisture I get from riding in rain is from perspiration.

I tried a scheme once that did NOT work well, but might with some refinements. The plan was to keep a pair of worn-out athletic shoes at work and at home. Then, if it rained, I would wear those shoes in whatever direction I was going. That would then leave two worn-out pairs of shoes at one end of the trip, one wet and one dry. The next day, I would take the dry pair back in the opposite direction to be ready for the next rain. The flaw in that plan was that athletic shoes take more than a day to dry out and don't smell too good while doing so.

I have tried plastic bags over the shoes, but they don't stay in place well and don't conform to the foot. I used to keep some bread bags in my rain gear, ready for rain. One day it started to rain, so I pulled over and broke out the rain gear. When I got to the bread bags, I found that left-over crumbs inside the bags had turned moldy and filled the bags with moldy bread smell.

The waterproof-hiking-boots-as-bike-shoes solution is working really well for me.
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Old 09-26-05, 06:47 AM
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Wrap the contents of your panniers in plastic bags. Even waterproof and covered bags sometimes take on water.

Since it is warm where you are, don't wear rain coat/pants. It will make you sweat. I just wear light shorts/shirt (not cotton), then change into dry clothes when I get to work. I also prefer to wear sandals in the rain (my bad-weather commuter has platform pedals). The rain feels good between my toes, and the sandals dry very quickly (I keep other shoes at work to wear during the day).

Braking distance will be increased. I occasionally drag the brakes to keep the rims/pads dry. That way I know they will work when I need them.

Train tracks and other metal in the road can be real slick. As can painted lines. But others have already said that.

Have fun! Riding in the rain (and snow!) makes me feel like a kid again.
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Old 09-26-05, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Makoa
I also prefer to wear sandals in the rain
Now there's an idea I never thought of. There is some brand of sandals--I have seen them but can't remember the name--made for boaters that has covered toes. Don't fight the water, embrace the water.
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Old 09-26-05, 07:27 AM
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i would think twice about bringing your wet bike into you cube unless you have something to put under the tires while it dries. the rugs in the server room here at work are still stained from where my bike sat as i was getting my locks replaced in the kryptonite/bic fiasco last year.

luckily no one noticed it was my bike....
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Old 09-26-05, 07:31 AM
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It sounds to me like you are ready. That how I handle a warm rain (anything over 55 degrees). Squeeze the excess water out of you cycling gear once you get to work and hang them to dry. You may want to put news papers under you bike in you cube. Stuff you shoes with paper towels or newspaper and replace after a few hours, this speeds up drying out your shoes.

As for the ride, wear very bright clothes and lights are a very good idea. Full fenders keep you and your bike much cleaner, but I'm guessing you don't see much rain so maybe just a pair of clip-on fenders. Also the roads will be slick and your brakes will not be as effective. Use more rear brake than front as it is easy to slide the front tire out from under you on wet roads. Take any corners much slower than normal. Give yourself more room to stop. And avoid or be careful on metal surfaces, painted lines, and oil spots on the roads. Its best to drive around puddles because they may hide a deep pothole. I bent a rim last winter by riding through a small puddle only to find it was a pot hole 3"+ deep. I rode in to work this morning in the rain and really enjoyed. Hopefully you will too.
Craig
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Old 09-26-05, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by swwhite
Now there's an idea I never thought of. There is some brand of sandals--I have seen them but can't remember the name--made for boaters that has covered toes. Don't fight the water, embrace the water.
I use Shimano SPD sandals. They are great in the rain and dry quick. There are a couple of other brands (Lake, Exustar) the later of which is low cost enough when on sale at Nashbar to get just for rainy days (but I've never seen 'em so I don't know if they are as good as the Shimano)

Since you are in LA you can probably wear sandals year round. Even if you don't use clipless, the SPD cycling sandals are still good as they have a very stiff sole.

Al
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Old 09-26-05, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CBBaron
As for the ride, wear very bright clothes and lights are a very good idea. Full fenders keep you and your bike much cleaner, but I'm guessing you don't see much rain so maybe just a pair of clip-on fenders. Craig
Lights are very important in rain - easy to forget on sunny days that turn stormy, but essential. Visibility is poor, not all drivers have headlights on and with 'rainy' air reflectors don't work too well. Even a white shirt is good for visibility, but hi vis lime is also best. Don't forget drivers visibility is even more reduced by flat light, rain on window and wipers that only clean part of the windshield. I don't use fenders as we get ~7" or rain year and I have no problem on my 9mi commute even with a torrential downpour. LA is probably similar. But it depends on how dirty wet you can afford to get (i.e. showers, clean, dry clothes to change into)

Al
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Old 09-26-05, 08:18 PM
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Shimano clipless sandals here.
1) layer of woolie boolie wool sock
2) layer of Sealskinz Gortex Socks
3) Layer of Bootie (stretch kind not the neoprene)

I always wears sandals, and just adjust any combo of the 3 layers depending on weather. All 3 when its wet and cold.
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Old 09-26-05, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
I use Shimano SPD sandals. They are great in the rain and dry quick. There are a couple of other brands (Lake, Exustar) the later of which is low cost enough when on sale at Nashbar to get just for rainy days (but I've never seen 'em so I don't know if they are as good as the Shimano)

Since you are in LA you can probably wear sandals year round. Even if you don't use clipless, the SPD cycling sandals are still good as they have a very stiff sole.

Al
I don't know if they're as good as Shimano either since I've never had Shimano sandals but I do like my Exustar sandals. That's all I've ever cycled in (since March )
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Old 09-26-05, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mac
It looks like it's going to rain here in L.A. tomorrow - isolated thunderstorms. I haven't ridden in rain before, so what should I look out for? (I don't even ride my motorcycle when it's raining out.) I've got a hybrid bike so no skinny tires here. Don't ride over metal because it's very slippery? Extra braking distance? Extra visibility?

Also, is there anything extra that I should bring to the office with me? I've got waterproof covers for my Arkel panniers so my clothes should be dry. But I've only got UnderArmor, shorts, jersey, and forearm & foreleg warmers, so I guess I'll be soaked by the time I get there. And I park my bike in my cubicle.
You will of course be less visible in the rain so brighter clothes are always a plus. Depending on visibility you may want to turn on your taillight and/or headlight. The odd insane driver seems to get joy out of splashing a cyclist.

Fenders will be useful. (avoid the muddy stripe up your back, but if you're changing anyway maybe you don't care) Metal will be more slippery - but just approach with usual caution. Leave some extra room to brake if its raining hard. If its hardly raining you'll barely notice!

If you're going to park your bike inside on carpet, I would bring an old towel to wipe it off first so it doesn't dirty up the cube.

I find a waterproof jacket the most useful thing in the rain (but if its warm out you may wish to skip). Pants that don't soak up water (so jeans are bad) - if its a real downpour nylon pants are good but if its just drizzling I'll just wear whatever. If its warm and raining shorts are fine. For most rain I find a helmet (even with a fair number of vents) to be a sufficient rain hat. For really hard rain if you really want your head to stay dry you can get helmet covers that cover the holes and have a neck flap to boot. If you don't wear a helmet get a rain jacket that has a hood

I haven't really ever bothered with anything to cover my shoes with. But when it downpours your shoes can get soaked and stay wet. So if you have a change of socks and shoes at work (or bring in your pannier) that would be useful!
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Old 09-27-05, 12:02 AM
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Well I got up this morning and it was freezing - below 60! So I drove to work and it rained during the day. But it made my evening ride quite nice. It was warm and humid, but w/o the sun beating down on me, plus the air was a cleaner than it usually is.

I've found it's too much effort to get all my gear together and ride to & from work. Much easier to drive there & back then go for a ride in the evening. I did watch out for puddles of water that may contain "surprise" potholes. Thanks.
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Old 09-27-05, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mac
Well I got up this morning and it was freezing - below 60! So I drove to work and it rained during the day.
Freezing********** Thats beautiful weather. Ofcourse thats pretty normal here so rain barely affects my commute. Throw a jacket and tights on and an extra pair of socks in the bag and I'm ready to go. Yesterday morning was mid 60s with a light rain. Wonderful ride in.
Craig
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Old 09-27-05, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mac
Well I got up this morning and it was freezing - below 60!
Boggle. 42*F this morning, just right for a bracing ride. I did finally put on a base layer top under my jersey.

The only thing I really don't like about winter riding is that studded tires really suck the energy right out of your legs.

Light rain yesterday morning at 58*F, I tried out my new rain jacket from J&G - it's great! I should have bought it sooner. At $100 it's a bargain! Wish I had heavier rain to really test it though.
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Old 09-27-05, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Wish I had heavier rain to really test it though.
send it to me. i'll test it for you.
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Old 09-27-05, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Dead Extra #2
Rain-x on the glasses does wonders.
Does that really work? I have glasses, and a bottle of Rain-X in my garage
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Old 09-28-05, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Dead Extra #2
Watch out for painted lines on the roads, they can be very slick.
Totally, also run only on the part of the road where the car tires run, not the center of the lane as engine oil + water can be slick.
Manhole covers, metal plates ect...basically don't turn and lean the bike when on a suspect surface.
Slow and turn keeping yourself\bike more upright in wet conditions.
G-luck!
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Old 09-29-05, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by swwhite
Now there's an idea I never thought of. There is some brand of sandals--I have seen them but can't remember the name--made for boaters that has covered toes. Don't fight the water, embrace the water.
Even better than sandals are those amphibious shoes surfers and beachgoers wear. I wear those in the rain. I don't bother with waterproof pants because they get wet with sweat anyway. Rain usually smells better than sweat. Just have a change of clothes ready. The key idea is to be comfortable while riding, not dry.
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Old 09-29-05, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by mac
It looks like it's going to rain here in L.A. tomorrow - isolated thunderstorms. I haven't ridden in rain before, so what should I look out for? (I don't even ride my motorcycle when it's raining out.) I've got a hybrid bike so no skinny tires here. Don't ride over metal because it's very slippery? Extra braking distance? Extra visibility?

Also, is there anything extra that I should bring to the office with me? I've got waterproof covers for my Arkel panniers so my clothes should be dry. But I've only got UnderArmor, shorts, jersey, and forearm & foreleg warmers, so I guess I'll be soaked by the time I get there. And I park my bike in my cubicle.
If your cycling clothes aren't waterproof, bring a towel to dry yourself off, and maybe a rag to wipe down your bike before you park it in your cubicle. Can you hang your cycling clothes up to dry while you're working? Hopefully your bike has fenders, if not you'll find out why it should when it starts to rain.
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