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Coping with cold, rainy and lots of climbing

Old 06-19-13, 07:15 PM
  #1  
GeorgeBaby
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Coping with cold, rainy and lots of climbing

I recently spent a few days cycling on the Oregon coast -- the temperature was low 50s, it was pouring rain much of the day, windy, and of course, there were hills.

Because it was cold and rainy (3rd rainiest May ever, I was told), I had to keep my rain gear on, and because of the hills, I was sweating profusely. When I stopped, I chilled badly. How do you dress for this kind of weather? I couldn't ventilate, which is my normal method of dealing with sweating and cold, so my inner layer was soaked completely (I wore cotton one day, which was a huge mistake, but hadn't realized how much I was going to sweat, but I felt pretty damp even in wool).

When I was young, I didn't need to stop and rest, but now I do, and the stopping causes problems. How do others deal with this?
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Old 06-19-13, 07:33 PM
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I wear a merino wool base layer, go slow and steady, and ventilate as much as possible.
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Old 06-19-13, 07:44 PM
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Your shift to wool was a good call. It will help you prevent hypothermia. Even with temperatures in the mid thirties with wind and heavy rain I try to under dress to minimize sweating-YMMV. Depending on conditions I use a wool t-shirt with wool arm warmers or long sleeve wool zip turtleneck wool top under my raincoat. Any more clothes and I overheat and sweat a lot My rain gear of choice for over twenty years has been a long, below the knee hooded Patagonia rain coat. It has a durable waterproof coating and a DWR outer coating that I revived periodically. The two way zipper really provides wide adjustability while riding. I open the zipper gradually from the bottom as I warm up at the beginning of the ride to vent a bit and gradually close the zipper if i need to retain more heat. The bottom end of the jacket trails behind me over my saddle and items on the rear rack top. This has worked well at high altitude in the Andes, at sea level on the Alaskan coast, and on the Divide Ride in heavy rain and wind to keep me comfortable. When I stop for a break I put on a warm synthetic insulation layer to prevent chilling until I start again. In the worst of conditions I will use wool tights with wind pants over them. This is a rare event so far. Overdressing and rain pants to me are some of the main causes of sweating while touring in rain.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:05 PM
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I change my clothing quite frequently! Often I will anticipate, especially if I am familiar with the terrain. At the bottom of a big climb I will pull off a layer or two. Then at the top, before the big descent on the other side, I will add a layer or two. Keeping some dry stuff stashed safely away to pull out at stops, that is another smart strategy for long rides. Of course, need a good waterproof layer to protect it at the stop! Could use something like a sil-nylon poncho at that point. Then stuff it back in the saddlebag or whatever when getting back on the saddle.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:14 PM
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Yeah, I live in a desert area, so I'm out-of-practice with dealing with day after day of rain. It sounds like I'll have to figure out how to ventilate better (or not tour where and when it's that rainy). It was really pouring one day, so I'm not sure if I could have easily changed layers and kept them dry.

thanks, guys.

Hey, Jim, how are you liking your Nomad?

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Old 06-19-13, 08:23 PM
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Temperature management. When you stop make sure to cover your head before you lose too much heat. Showers Pass Event jacket really is worth the money.
You could wear this with a thin wool undershirt while climbing then put on a thicker layer for a long descent.

https://www.showerspass.com/catalog/m...lite-21-jacket

Last edited by LeeG; 06-19-13 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:28 PM
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Part of the secret too is to get a rain jacket that has lots of ventilation. This past winter I was wearing a Showers Pass Touring jacket that seemed to work quite well. In warm weather mostly I just don't worry about it and get wet. Still yeah when you stop it is good to have something warm and dry. It does take some experimenting to figure out what works for you.

I like my Nomad: it's what I ride 98% of the time. I have the 38-16 gearing so that's about 17 gear inches at the bottom which I use all the time. I have Marathon Supremes 50-559 on at the moment which work great. It's a heavy bike but then I carry twenty pounds of this and that all the time and then too twenty pounds of flab so really blaming the bike is ridiculous. I have the Andra CSS rims which I just love. My Trek 520 rims were getting dented from barreling down hills and hitting pot holes. The roads aren't so great! The Nomad is just solid. Plus I can haul a huge lot of groceries!

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Old 06-19-13, 08:31 PM
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Here is the Touring jacket in action:

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Old 06-19-13, 08:38 PM
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3 rainy, cool days in Vermont/NH in mid May. 3 mph up, 40 mph down. Running pants, couple of torso layers, all covered with Northface Venture rainsuit. Got a bit damp, but stayed warm. The Venture material breathes nicely. Hood covering the head, a major heatsink. First thing to go, even in rain, if overheating. Shoes covered with plastic bags, reinforced with duct tape. Gloves, wet but warm. Not a pretty sight, but a comfortable tourist.

Buddy had a Goretex outfit that may have been a bit more waterproof.

Actually, there is no such thing as breathable and waterproof. 'Waterproof' is an industry advertising stretch, meaning 98% waterproof.

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Old 06-19-13, 09:35 PM
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I had eight straight days of rain and snow in the North Cascades and Rockies in June last year on my Northern Tier ride. I followed many of the tips outlined above, mainly smart layer management. I kept a gallon ziplock bag on top of my pack to store a dry jersey for the descents. I could get it out at the summits without getting everything else wet. My strategy was to forget about staying dry, but to stay warm while wet. It worked well enough to keep me going. I also kept plastic bread bags handy for my feet, over my socks and under my shoes, for the really cold days. Keeping sleeping insulation dry is also critical. I store all that in a trash compactor bag inside my almost waterproof pannier pack.

As far as stopping to rest, I don't do it in rain, except every couple of hours if I can find some kind of shelter. I keep a steady pace that I can sustain for hours. On hiking trips in similar conditions, I'll pitch my tent for a break, but I haven't had to to that on the bike. There's usually at least some kind of park pavilion if not a cafe. At one of the high passes in Washington State, I met some RVers who invited me in out of the snow for a hot drink and a warm place to change into my descent clothes. That was nice.
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Old 06-20-13, 01:58 AM
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Rowan and I have good waterproof breathable rain jackets with long pit zips ... so we can climb with the zips open, and then close everything up for the descent.

I also tend to go with polypro rather than merino wool. But definitely not cotton!



My jacket ... Groundeffect's She Shell
https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...il-SHE-RAI.htm

Rowan's jacket ... Groundeffect's Storm Trooper
https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...il-STO-RAI.htm

They are waterproof, and the underarm zips make them breathable.

Last edited by Machka; 06-20-13 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 06-20-13, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
Actually, there is no such thing as breathable and waterproof. 'Waterproof' is an industry advertising stretch, meaning 98% waterproof.
I think it's the other way round.

My jackets (three MEC, and a Ground Effect Stormtrooper) are waterproof. But the advertising stretch comes in "breathable".

The MEC jackets (in total, I've had four) have been excellent, and their trousers are as good, with side zips that are as waterproof as they can get.
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Old 06-20-13, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim Kukula View Post

I like my Nomad: it's what I ride 98% of the time. I have the 38-16 gearing so that's about 17 gear inches at the bottom which I use all the time. I have Marathon Supremes 50-559 on at the moment which work great. It's a heavy bike but then I carry twenty pounds of this and that all the time and then too twenty pounds of flab so really blaming the bike is ridiculous. I have the Andra CSS rims which I just love. My Trek 520 rims were getting dented from barreling down hills and hitting pot holes. The roads aren't so great! The Nomad is just solid. Plus I can haul a huge lot of groceries!
Similar set-up to mine, except I went with 42-16. Don't think I've needed 1st gear so far, I probably ride less challenging terrain than you. And I didn't get the S&S couplings. I agree, it's a great bike. One couldn't call it sporty, but put 40 lbs of gear on it for a two-month tour and it's magnificent machine.

OP, merino wool at least keeps you warm when you're wet, and stinks less than synthetics. I dislike waterproof clothing, it traps one's sweat as you observe. So in my experience (to be fair I have never toured in arctic conditions) there is no way to both regulate your temperature and stay dry in wet conditions. Only real solution to the cooling down problem is to add a layer of clothing as soon as you stop.
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Old 06-20-13, 04:02 AM
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Look for a waterproof jacket with pit-zips, a back vent and a front zipper with poppers. Modern lightweight WPs have a WP zipper with no poppers, it is either open wide or totally closed. Poppers let you ventilate the front on a wet climb. Poppers are much better than velcro, which can stick to a wool baselayer and cause pilling.
If you get to the top of a really big climb in cool, rainy weather, change your baselayer to a dry one, put your long tights and waterproof pants on, and add a midlayer. You will chill really quickly and you still have a long, cold descent to do.
It is more difficult to dress for rolling country, a few minutes of climbing, a minute of descending, repeat x20. Use your gears and limit your work-rate on the climbs.
Waterproof socks such as Sealskinz work best in conjunction with waterproof pants, otherwise water drins inside the tops. After a couple of days of wet cycling it is your feet that really suffer. Keep a supply of dry socks.
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Old 06-20-13, 05:04 AM
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I used a cycling cape when I rode down the California Coast many years ago in what I remember as a long wet period of alternating rain and mist Gore tex was very expensive, and not as good as it is nowadays. I wore wool.
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Old 06-20-13, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Look for a waterproof jacket with pit-zips, a back vent and a front zipper with poppers. Modern lightweight WPs have a WP zipper with no poppers, it is either open wide or totally closed. Poppers let you ventilate the front on a wet climb. Poppers are much better than velcro, which can stick to a wool baselayer and cause pilling.
If you get to the top of a really big climb in cool, rainy weather, change your baselayer to a dry one, put your long tights and waterproof pants on, and add a midlayer. You will chill really quickly and you still have a long, cold descent to do.
It is more difficult to dress for rolling country, a few minutes of climbing, a minute of descending, repeat x20. Use your gears and limit your work-rate on the climbs.
Waterproof socks such as Sealskinz work best in conjunction with waterproof pants, otherwise water drins inside the tops. After a couple of days of wet cycling it is your feet that really suffer. Keep a supply of dry socks.
Yes, and either dry gloves or a windproof shell over them. And toe covers at least, or at best a pair of booties. Wet on any part of the body is hell in wind, but is tolerable with a windproof shell.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:50 AM
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For rain, I have a rain cover for my helmet. I am often surprised how few people have them. My helmet is a mountain bike type with the front visor. I also have a Third Eye mirror clamped onto the visor, the rain cover does not interfere with the mirror bracket. Sometimes I wear the rain cover on cold days just to reduce the air flow over my head. There are several brands, mind is the J&G, they make a breathable version but I have the non-breathable version which I find works just fine.
https://www.bicycleclothing.com/Water...et-Covers.html

Some motels give away shower caps, if you do not have a rain cover and see a shower cap at a motel, grab it. I have often carried spare shower caps when I find them, I usually end up giving them away to other cyclists.

Before I started using helmet covers, I found that I was either roasting in sweat or freezing, the helmet cover that keeps my head dryer seems to help me moderate temperature swings better.

Careful management of venting and layering is pretty important. I have a polartec vest that is a common item for me to wear on cooler days biking, fits well under rain jacket. Being sleeveless, it does not get too warm but it does help a lot on cool days.

If it is quite warm, I forgo the rain pants and shoe covers, I do not want that much heat buildup. But, unfortunately this can mean my shoes get soaked and they do not dry out very fast. Last month on a tour I had to wear my campsite shoes (trail runners) for a day on the bike while my SPD bike shoes were drying out.

Where I have the biggest problem is several consecutive rainy days. Once the rest of my gear (sleeping bag, tent, etc.) starts to get wet, everything gets pretty miserable and then there is no good solution unless you can get indoors and dry everything out. Couple years ago I was on a canoe trip and we had five consecutive days of rain, out in the wilderness there are no motels to duck into.

Off topic - I am just finishing building up my new Nomad with S&S couplers. I have not seen so many Nomad references in one forum before. I used 44/16 combination, but bought a 36t chainring that I can use on trips with a lot of hills. I have put two quick links on my chain so I can easily switch to the other ring. I got the CSS Andra rims.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Rowan and I have good waterproof breathable rain jackets with long pit zips ... so we can climb with the zips open, and then close everything up for the descent.

I also tend to go with polypro rather than merino wool. But definitely not cotton!



My jacket ... Groundeffect's She Shell
https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...il-SHE-RAI.htm

Rowan's jacket ... Groundeffect's Storm Trooper
https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...il-STO-RAI.htm

They are waterproof, and the underarm zips make them breathable.
What size does Rowan have?
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Old 06-20-13, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Look for a waterproof jacket with pit-zips, a back vent and a front zipper with poppers. Modern lightweight WPs have a WP zipper with no poppers, it is either open wide or totally closed. Poppers let you ventilate the front on a wet climb. Poppers are much better than velcro, which can stick to a wool baselayer and cause pilling.
If you get to the top of a really big climb in cool, rainy weather, change your baselayer to a dry one, put your long tights and waterproof pants on, and add a midlayer. You will chill really quickly and you still have a long, cold descent to do.
It is more difficult to dress for rolling country, a few minutes of climbing, a minute of descending, repeat x20. Use your gears and limit your work-rate on the climbs.
Waterproof socks such as Sealskinz work best in conjunction with waterproof pants, otherwise water drins inside the tops. After a couple of days of wet cycling it is your feet that really suffer. Keep a supply of dry socks.
Can you explain what poppers are?
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Old 06-20-13, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
What size does Rowan have?
Large.
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Old 06-20-13, 07:25 AM
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George, I'm not wool tolerant (Per my Dr. nobody is allergic to wool.) so I can't help with those suggestions. I have a PI heavy rain jacket with vents and a long flap I can lower to cover my backside that works very well. There's no model name on the jacket, BTW. Heat loss is greatest at the head, so a cover is important. Dry and warm feet are my second priority followed by mittens for the hands. I have a Foot Joy long sleeved T-shirt that my son gave me that works as well as he said it would. It holds body heat with the vents closed, but once the vents are opened or the jacket removed it doesn't ventilate too quickly to cause a chill.

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Old 06-20-13, 07:59 AM
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Jacket zipper down on the climbs, up on the descents. Don't expect to be dry. Works for me.

BTW, I much prefer synthetics to wool.
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Old 06-20-13, 08:58 AM
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Cheap rain suit cut off at the knees and elbows.
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Old 06-20-13, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Off topic - I am just finishing building up my new Nomad with S&S couplers. I have not seen so many Nomad references in one forum before. I used 44/16 combination, but bought a 36t chainring that I can use on trips with a lot of hills. I have put two quick links on my chain so I can easily switch to the other ring. I got the CSS Andra rims.
Still OT, good choice having the smaller chainring. At this rate we'll need a Nomad owner's club thread.
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Old 06-20-13, 12:37 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
Cheap rain suit cut off at the knees and elbows.
I usually end up rolling pant legs and arms up when riding in rain, then rolling them back down when stopped.

As others have said, wet and warm is good.
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