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riding in seattle

Old 06-04-08, 12:59 AM
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seeme
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riding in seattle

what do u guys recommend me getting on my bike and what cloths should i be wearing. everyone knows it rains in seattle, but i can be riding in a rain jacket no vent
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Old 06-04-08, 06:44 AM
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Get a jacket with pit and rear vents. That moisture has go to somewhere when you sweat. If not you will be nearly as wet inside as on the outside. Fenders are a must or at least a rear rack that can act as a fender so you don't get the skunk stripe
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Old 06-04-08, 08:31 AM
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+1 on the fenders.

I've been an all weather Seattle commuter for about a year now. In that year I went from wearing street clothes and a rain suit when wet to wearing all bicycle (or athletic) specific clothing which works well regardless of whether it's rainy, wet or sunny.

The secret is wool and synthetics that act like wool. You want clothes that are comfortable wet or dry. Fenders will keep your feet dry in most conditions for about 30 minutes, after that you'll be wanting to wear a pair of booties over your shoes (or plastic bags if you ride with clips or platforms).

I do the messenger-esque dress style. Knickers (Swrve, Chrome, Swobo all make good knickers), knee high wool socks when cold/cool and rainy, an athletic T, an Ibex medium weight wool long sleeve thing, and then a wool or cotton cycling cap depending on the temperature.
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Old 06-04-08, 10:11 AM
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Seattle rain

Originally Posted by seeme View Post
what do u guys recommend me getting on my bike and what cloths should i be wearing. everyone knows it rains in seattle, but i can be riding in a rain jacket no vent
I commute 18 miles RT on the Foothills trail in South Pierce county and my current clothing is Teva sandals with wool socks, wool long sleeve zip T (Rivbike.com) Rain jacket with pit zips (Lands End clothing) Bib shorts until I buy some new regular shorts from Rivendell coupled with wicking athletic undies. I don't worry if my legs get wet since it is warm enough. In the cold weather, I add long wool tights and extra wool socks to the above and if its really nasty (icey, snow, ice cold rain) I drive.
I also change from summer gloves to full fingered winter gloves in the winter. In addition I use a Bell Metro and a wool skull cap under in the cold. In the super hot summer, if I have a bunch of climbing, I ride with just a cotton cycling cap on my head and switch to bike shorts and a short sleeve lightweight wool T.
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Old 06-04-08, 10:44 AM
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Definitely fenders. About half of the days the road is wet leaving you with a wet back without them.

For a biking jacket if you have a short commute do not get a full waterproof jacket. Get something good (from say Pearl Izumi) that is rain resistant. In heavy rain it will wet out but a waterproof jacket will wet out on the inside every time from sweat.

Otherwise I have to give the answer no one wants to hear. It is up to you and your commute. There are always tradeoffs (ie cost, weight, versatility...) you need to make the choices that make the most sense for you.
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Old 06-04-08, 10:47 AM
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I've been commuting in Seattle for just 2 months. I just wear ordinary bike shorts and an old tech fiber shirt and gloves and helmet. When it is cool (mornings) or raining, I use a bike jacket with pit zips and high neck, and a helmet cover.

Haven't done too much commuting in the rain yet, but have started carrying a second pair of socks for the trip home when it does rain. I hate putting those soggy socks back on for the ride home. Might start wearing wool or synthetic socks for rainy days. Cotton sucks. Winter I'll look into neoprene booties. (Yes, I wear bike shoes.) I wear tights when it's below 45, but haven't needed them in over a month. Have a pair of nylon bike rain pants that I bought on sale, but have never worn them. Maybe next winter.

I also have a pair of large heavy-duty rubber toxic-waste gloves I got at a hardware store to go over my bike gloves on cold and rainly days, they are still sitting in my panniers and I haven't needed them yet.
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Old 06-04-08, 10:48 AM
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Oh yeah, and I really, really like my Freddy Fenders...

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Old 06-04-08, 10:53 AM
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P.S. My jacket - Pit zips, no vent. When it gets warm, I just unzip it or take it off. I don't zip the pits unless it's either pouring or freezing. And if it's freezing, I'm probably relying on what I have under it for warmth anyway.
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Old 06-04-08, 11:46 AM
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Another vote for fenders! You also need lights and reflectors for the darker winter months... so you can see and be seen.

I've been bicycle commuting in the Pacific Northwest for just over a year now, and I've gotta say it beats the heck out of commuting in other places I've lived (Washington, DC, St. Louis, Arkansas). When you bicycle in a place with 90 degree temperatures and 90% humidity during the Summer, you get absolutely drenched with sweat... much wetter than I get from the typical light rain I experience in this part of the country. Not to mention being wet from rain is a lot less disgusting than being soaked with sweat!

Sure I get a bit sweaty during the warmer weeks around here, but it's nothing compared to other places I've lived. And the rain isn't so bad either. The only thing that gets me about bicycle commuting in the Northwest is the triple-threat of rain, cold, and darkness; but that's only an issue a few months out of the year and even then the rain was usually light enough (and sporadic enough) not to be too bad.

Clothing really depends on the length of your commute. I usually commute in my work clothes (jeans or other pants, shirt, jacket, regular shoes, etc.). My commute is only 8 miles round trip. Sometimes I bring some cycling shorts, shoes, and shirt for an extended ride after work. Other times I just go for extended rides in my work clothes (which does get them a little sweaty). Wool or synthetics do better than cotton, but I do like to wear breezy cotton linen shirts in the Summer. I also have no problem with jeans... but my legs don't tend to get very cold. I don't like rain jackets much, because they don't breathe well. I usually wear a rain-resistant (but not waterproof) jacket. If I get caught in a downpour I will sometimes put on a waterproof jacket or cape I keep rolled up in my pannier. I prefer the cape in the warmer months because I don't get as sweaty under it. Otherwise rain jacket and rain pants are less cumbersome.

Don't forget to pack a spare tube, pump, tire levers, basic toolkit or multi-tool, and a good lock.

Sean
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Old 06-04-08, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by sean000 View Post
When you bicycle in a place with 90 degree temperatures and 90% humidity during the Summer
Living in CO its not as bad, we get 90 degree temps somewhat regularly but the humidity is almost none. Just out of curiosity though, how humid does it normally get there in seattle and the PNW on non-rainy days?

I'm thinking of moving up there so thanks for posting this OP
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Old 06-04-08, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by legit View Post
Living in CO its not as bad, we get 90 degree temps somewhat regularly but the humidity is almost none. Just out of curiosity though, how humid does it normally get there in seattle and the PNW on non-rainy days?

I'm thinking of moving up there so thanks for posting this OP
It's relatively dry when it's not raining. Also, temps tend to be mild. Having said that, I don't try to stay dry in the rain -- that's just futile. I do have fenders and wear booties. But the booties only keep your shoes from holding enough water to stock trout. They don't keep you dry unless you're not out for long.
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Old 06-04-08, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by legit View Post
Living in CO its not as bad, we get 90 degree temps somewhat regularly but the humidity is almost none. Just out of curiosity though, how humid does it normally get there in seattle and the PNW on non-rainy days?
I'm thinking of moving up there so thanks for posting this OP
The humidity can be high on days when it rains all day long, but the temperatures rarely get that high (especially not on rainy days), so you don't notice it much. The hottest days are usually sunny summer days when the humidity is very low. The sun is what usually makes it feel hot around here, so as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud or sinks below the horizon the temperature can drop dramatically. During the Summer it hardly rains at all and everything gets really dry.

When I've lived in hot and humid places like the South, the temperature can stay up in the 90s even at night. That hot air can hold a lot of water vapor, and the humidity stays high. In Arkansas and in DC we would get these sudden torrential downpours and violent thunderstorms that you just never really see here in the Puget Sound area. The heaviest rains I've seen here still don't seem as bad as the cloudbusters I've seen elsewhere, and I think I've only seen lightning once or twice in the year that I've lived here.

I've lived in Colorado as well, and I think Colorado and the Pacific Northwest are both fantastic places to ride a bicycle (although Arkansas and Missouri do have some amazing mountain biking). Colorado, even along the front range, gets a lot colder in Winter. The Puget Sound area is extremely mild temperature-wise. Rarely gets below freezing in the Winter (and is usually mid-40s) and rarely gets above 80 in the Summer. The wind-storms can get pretty fierce in the Winter, but the rain is usually so light you don't even get that wet. It's just frequent and can last a long time. Many Spring and Fall days it just rains for awhile and then the sun comes out. You never know what you're going to get.

I recommend moving here... just make sure you carry sunglasses and an umbrella
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Old 06-04-08, 11:21 PM
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I put my wet socks on top of my computer under my desk. Dries them out nicely.


Also, you really only need a back fender, not a front one if you have a reasonably fat down tube like on a candondale. If the front tire kicks up enough water to wet you when you turn, then you're going to get soaked anyway. Back fender is crucial, though.

Also, learn to love to get soaked to the bone. Most the time it's not that cold such that a 5 or 10 mile ride in the rain isn't going to chill you much.
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Old 06-04-08, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by scooterbeans View Post
I put my wet socks on top of my computer under my desk. Dries them out nicely.


Also, you really only need a back fender, not a front one if you have a reasonably fat down tube like on a candondale. If the front tire kicks up enough water to wet you when you turn, then you're going to get soaked anyway. Back fender is crucial, though.

Also, learn to love to get soaked to the bone. Most the time it's not that cold such that a 5 or 10 mile ride in the rain isn't going to chill you much.
What you say about fenders may be true; however, a long enough front fender keeps road grime from being kicked up on the chain.
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