Ridiculous Rain and a Thumbhole Sleeve Hack

Yo bikey peeps. A long time ago, back in Honolulu, I used to bike in the rain. And a not so long time ago, back in Asheville, I biked in some summer showers. And about 10 minutes ago, here in Portland, I got my ass handed to me by a downpour. Welcome to the Pacific NorthWet everyboday.

Oh man, I thought I knew cold. I thought I was a badass. I thought biking 13 miles home against the intense tradewinds and rain with nothing but spandex and a helmet holding me back was “cold”. Well, turns out “cold” in Hawaii does. Not. Exist. Period.


Remind me to wait out the rain next time…


Or maybe Cantaloupe needs some chromey fenders.

So, even though I roostered my butt with my lack of fenders, soaked my socks through my Chuck Taylors, and rolled home with totally drenched upper thighs through those Lulu Lemon pants that are so good for all other types of fall weather, I did come away with one successful cold weather hack. BEHOLD!


In my men’s XS rain slick, the sleeves and length are just a little long for me – the way I like it! That extra long sleeve is just long enough to reach my knuckles with the Thumbhole Sleeve Hack. Ka-bam-a-lam.

I call it the no-sew velcro thumbhole sleeve hack! Or, thumbholes for dummies. All you need is a rain slick with velcro straps at the wrist. And thank Gods I do, because it was the only thing keeping me from turning around on my commute and waiting for a bus while mumbling “Winter is coming!” All body parts wrapped in neon green rain slick stayed happy and dry.


So SIM-POH! Why hadn’t I ever done this before with my pink kids REI rain slick?


Thumbholes for dummies, I’m a dummy for not doing this YEARS ago…

So keep your sleeves down and your butts up, cycle ladies and gentlemen. You can bike commute in a race position all you want with the Thumbhole Sleeve Hack. Get your hack on, Bike Commuters, and keep your arms and wrists wind and rain free!


  1. Ghost Rider October 3, 2013 3:23 am 

    Aw, Mir…I hope you had someone to make hot cocoa for you after you got soaked!

    That cold rain B.S. happens here, too. I was used to riding in the rain in Florida…I thought, “man, I can handle rain anytime, anywhere.” What I forgot, though, is that rain is COLD if you’re not in the tropics…freezy little drops of water that run down your spine and chill you instantly. I’d rather get broiled by the sun than have to ride in the rain…hell, I even prefer riding in below-freezing temps (as long as it isn’t also raining, which it does a LOT here).

  2. Mike J. October 3, 2013 5:27 am 

    Cold rain is the worst. That said, fenders and mud flaps can make all the difference, particularly in keeping your feet dry.

    Keep on truckin’

  3. Ghost Rider October 3, 2013 6:01 am 

    Yeah, Mir, you gots to shoehorn some fenders onto that Schwinn. I mean, you’re in Portland, the home of the “Rose City Reacharound”!

  4. bigbenaugust October 3, 2013 7:43 am 

    Rain in the SF Bay was always 45-50F, so I am very used to cold rain. Now that I am in the 919, I am having to adjust to it raining and being 75-85 out. You can’t wear a jacket in this stuff.

  5. RANTWICK October 3, 2013 9:02 am 

    – fenders baby. uhuh.
    – I have enjoyed riding in the rain way more by not even really trying to stay dry. I do wear a rain jacket, usually hanging open, but that’s about it. Rainsuits soak you with sweat anyway. I go for wet, but warm. The right fabrics make all the difference. Of course I can only do that because I’m always carrying a change of clothes in my panniers…
    – I love riding in the rain. I don’t know why exactly, but to me it feels faster somehow.
    – Nice hack! Why have I never thought of that?

  6. Mir.I.Am October 3, 2013 9:37 am 

    @Everyboday: Fenders. FENDERS, I say! Yes, it may be time to fender out. Waiting for just the right super sale at my LBS.
    @Rant – interesting method. Wet but warm sounds inappropriate, but what types of layers do you throw together, and in what type of weather?
    @Ben – yeah, the hot weather rain is what I prefer. Or at least, what I had considered “riding in the rain” before yesterday. WTF happened? How did the blood thin so fast? And, how the hell did I ride in Seattle all those 2.5 years?

    I think I just used to wait it out, because mostly it would be misting.

  7. RANTWICK October 3, 2013 11:20 am 

    Mir – In cool weather, the usual wicking stuff will do, particularly if layered. Full fingered gloves of some kind are critical in the wet and cool or cold, as you seem to appreciate already.

    In COLD weather, wool socks will stay warm when wet + winter/cold weather riding pants made for the job. My favourite pair are neoprene on the top side, which gets wet but stays warm, kind of like a wetsuit, with normal lycra on the back, since the back of your legs don’t get soaked if you’ve got fenders and it breathes better.

  8. RANTWICK October 3, 2013 11:30 am 

    Shorter version: Cover the bits that get nailed by the wind created by your forward motion with wool or neoprene, add gloves and if necessary lightweight balaclava or headband for ears. Plugging the neck of your jacket with a scarf or gaiter really feels nice too, stopping GR’s dreaded cold spine droplets. Make that “longer version”, I guess.

  9. Mir.I.Am October 3, 2013 11:43 am 

    Nice! I see a post in my future titled “Mild Winter Commuting Tips – Cover the bits that get nailed…” with guest author, RANTWICK. Like the wetsuit idea, it makes sense if you are changing clothes for sure.

  10. RANTWICK October 3, 2013 11:55 am 

    Well, now you’ve opened the door to yet another post, “How To Dry Your Wet Cycling Clothes at work in 7 Hours or Less!”

  11. Raiyn October 3, 2013 8:44 pm 

    She’s never ridden in a Northeast MN winter. Just sayin

  12. Graham October 4, 2013 5:03 am 

    I would like to point out that Rantwick’s solution only works here on the coast in the event of a headwind. In my experience, during a rainstorm you will only have a headwind for half of any given ride, regardless of direction. Just when you think everything that can get wet has gotten wet, the wind will swirl in a new and interesting direction and prove you wrong.

  13. JohnnyK October 4, 2013 7:38 am 

    It must be nice to be able to wear a jacket when it rains. Here in Florida when it rains it is so hot that if you wear a jacket you get just as wet. I am still looking for a way to stay somewhat dry when it rains while cycling in Florida.

  14. Elizabeth October 4, 2013 8:25 am 

    I’m becoming more of wuss biking in the cold rain with each passing year. You are bad @$$, Mir! :-)

    What’s your jacket? I’m in the market for a new waterproof commuter jacket (having already worn through 3 of ’em… gr!)….

  15. Mir.I.Am October 4, 2013 8:42 am 

    @Raiyn: Acknowledged. I have never ridden in ANY climate that a good ole Canadian would ever consider “cold”… according to my former roommate from Toronto.
    @Graham – Whoa! And pit zips don’t help? Boyfriend just indulged in a Patagonia Gore Tek jacket that is breathable and water proof with pit zips. Would you rock that with some spadex underneath?
    @Elizabeth – Just bought my new rain slick from Patagonia Torrentshell when they had a huge 50% clearance in the heat of summer. It isn’t Gore Tek, but is the same lining as my REI kids rain slick, the kinda funny plasticky stuff on the inside that keeps the rain out, but would do no good for a sweat-inducing longer commute. It’s not bike-specific, just rain-specific and plenty neon. I’ve only just worn through that last rain slick after 6 years! Not bad, I’d say.

  16. Ghost Rider October 4, 2013 10:01 am 

    @JohnnyK — I hear ya; after 20 years of riding in the Florida rain (luckily it only rains in summertime!), I found NOTHING that would keep me dry. It was either wet on the outside, or wet on the inside. A few people recommended rain capes (for that cooling/drying breeze up your undercarriage, provided you have fenders), but I never got to try one.

    @Ranty — we would LOVE to hear some tips on drying your clothes whilst you’re at work, so they’re dry(ish) for the commute home.

  17. RANTWICK October 4, 2013 12:12 pm 

    @Graham – Remember my method is not that much about staying dry, its is about staying warm getting all wet. Sure, you may get wet all over, but in my experience the places you feel the cold because of it are toes, shins, tops of thighs, ears.

    If I exeprience a tailwind strong enough to freeze the backs of my legs, I’ll be having too much fun speeding along to care.

  18. RANTWICK October 4, 2013 12:34 pm 

    @GR – Beyond the usual sources of breeze and heat (radiators, sapce heaters, etc) I like some of these others:

    Old CRT monitors (if your workplace actually has any): So long as your stuff isn’t DRIPPING, draping them over a crt’s vent holes isn’t bad.

    Server racks: I’m in IT, so if you can snag a coat rack or something and position it behind a big rack of servers, that’s pretty good.

    Your computer: If you have a decent sized tower for a computer, draping stuff over the back of it works somehwat.

    Believe it or not, rolling your clothes up in those sham wow things works well. I like to alternate between rolled up in sham and hanging through the day.

    Shoes are tough ones. Don’t do this. As much as I thought it funny at the time, the potential for screing something up somehow is very high. Maybe stuff a sham in shoes? Never tried that.

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