Monday, February 28, 2011

riding in the rain

The challenge of riding in the rain here in Portland is that:

a. The rainy season lasts for several months, usually beginning in October and going through May (or, as happened last year, all the way through June); and
b. For most of the rainy season it's not only wet, but sort of cold (average temps range from 38 to 50 degrees though cold snaps are not uncommon).

Most of us who ride year-round here are prepared with rain gear, fenders, lights and the like. The lucky ones have indoor bike parking at work and also a place to hang their wet things so they have all day to dry out. But we're in the time of year when it is hard to maintain enthusiasm for riding in the rain day in and day out.

Back in October, I am usually exultant at the first weeklong stretch of rain. I feel ready; my bike is ready for the wet weather and my rain gear is generally waterproof enough to get me to work without letting me get soaked. But by February I've lost my enthusiasm and I am ready for Spring to come, with its longer days and hints of sunnier weather.

This has been an odd winter, with some nice stretches of "normal" days (showers, changing to partly cloudy, highs in the high 40's or even warmer) and longer stretches of colder, wetter weather (including a few days of light snowfall). We've just come out of a cold spell that saw lows of around 20 F and highs barely above freezing for a couple of days. Now, the weather has warmed slightly and the next several days promise nothing but a cold, steady rain.

Through it all, I've had to make due with my rain gear. It mostly works pretty well, though rain pants have been a challenge. No matter what make or model I've tried the pants eventually leak at the crotch. With my older Burley Rain Rider pant it took several years before I noticed a leak in the seat; with other brands it has taken one winter season or less. (Other brands tried have included O2, Showers Pass and Endura.)

Readers are invited to suggest makes or models of rain pants that hold up for more than a single season. For an average price of $90 or more for "waterproof" cycling rainpants, I expect them to last longer than that.

Weather for Portland, OR

41°F | 39°F
43°F | 41°F
46°F | 39°F
44°F | 38°F

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