Staying dry (ish) in the rain.clothing . tips . training
I don’t really like the rain.
I’m fine with a downpour but that non-stop drizzle that gets in everywhere and goes on for weeks (feels like weeks anyway), really bugs me.
Strangely though, I don’t mind cycling in the rain.
When I was racing, the concentration would generally block everything out. Knowing that most of the others were hating every second, also helped a lot :-)
When out training, a rainy, misty day was almost focus educing. Nothing else to look at. Like a horse with blinkers. A wet horse. Also, not quite as fast.
But I’m getting away from the point of this post.
While I may not mind cycling in the rain, I still make sure I’m as comfortable as possible while in it.
The following might be more applicable to those who cycle as a sport, the commuter cyclist will hopefully pick up some tips.
Overshoes. While they won’t keep your shoes absolutely dry, during really cold weather, they will help with the wind chill and keep your toe toes warmer :-)
Placing some newspaper between the overshoes and the front of your shoes is also very effective. An old school trick that will earn you brownie points with the grisly set.
You know the ones. They eat ice cubes while out training in -10C.
Leg warmers. They, well, keep your legs warm. I prefer the bib shorts / leg warmer combo, rather than the full leg bib short style. I’m not sure what it was but my legs always felt like they were working harder when wearing the latter. I think there’s less “give”, as it’s a once piece, so you legs are working against the garment as well. A bit like stretching an elastic band over and over. Hopefully that make sense.
And in the name of whatever deity you believe in, do NOT wear those “cycling undershorts” that you find in the German low cost stores. Please. They are NOT a “thing”. No one who practices the sport wears them. You wear cycling shorts. That’s it.
No underwear either. Unless you like the chafed effect….. Spend money on a very good pair or three of shorts. Don’t skimp on them. Trust me.
Next the top base layer. Something that even when wet, doesn’t cause you to get cold. Merino wool is pretty amazing stuff. I’ve been drenched and still felt relatively comfy. The upside is that the base layers are amazing in summer as well.
While you can go out and get a cheapo base layer (and I have some), nothing comes close to my merino wool ones.
Cycling jerseys tend to be very similar and you don’t really get waterproof tops so the next important bit of clothing is the gillet (pronounced with a French sounding G and silent T) or rain jacket. Which one you wear, depends on the time of year / quantity of water beating down on you. A gillet has no sleeves, so knowing this should help when making the choice.
They both have one thing in common. Make sure they fit snugly. As in no flappy bits. Tight would be a better term. Cycling involves being as aero as possible. Wearing a rain jacket that acts as an air break isn’t the best idea. Snug fit, good. Air break, bad. As the temperature drops, you will need to invest in a winter jacket. Again, make sure this fits tightly. Snug fit, good. Air break, bad.
Gloves. Again this depends on the time of year. If it’s warm-warmish (yes, those are official terms. Mine), then the “normal” gloves will do. I say “normal”, because cycling gloves have no fingers. Generally if it’s around 10C and a bit windy, you probably want something a little heavier and WITH fingers. Anything around 6 and you want proper winter cycling gloves. Some of these have an inner glove as well. If you plan on cycling in winter, don’t skimp on these either. Your hands don’t do much, so wind chill is the enemy. You’ll get used to judging which to wear and the wind will always play a big part. 10C on a calm day is not the same as 10C and a northerly wind blowing..
Once the temperature drops significantly I also tend to wear a neck warmer. These are relatively inexpensive and make a real difference especially on really cold days. You can tuck the bottom part into the top of your gillet and if needs be, you can block the cold hair from getting into your lungs by pulling the top part over your mouth. Toasty.
Glasses! Well, these are all year around necessity but I would suggest having a pair with interchangeable lenses. Clear lenses, rather than dark ones are pretty useful in the rain :-)
Next up is the winter hat that goes under your helmet. I have a few different ones, again as it all depends on the weather. I usually use a conventional cycling or casquette until it gets really cold. Generally around December. I then have a thin winter cap or the heavier type depending on the temperature . Think wind chill again.
That’s pretty much it. Layers which get progressively thicker as the temperature drops.
And try and avoid black, most especially for the jacket if you’re planning to go out in the late afternoon / early evenings.