BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: rain

SOAKED=Lovely Day!

I got SOAKED riding home last night – what a LOVELY time!
me-soaked

No sooner did I unlock my bike to head home and the skies over Chicago opened up and poured down huge rain drops on me. A grin immediately crossed my face and I knew it would be a fun few miles commuting home by bike. By the time I got home, the rain had ceased. I encountered a few wind gusts along the way that kept me vigilant and my hands never left the handlebars… but since I had the roads almost to myself, I found myself singing the song Lovely Day all the way home. Am I nuts? I think I’m appreciative of the finer things in life – like a refreshing rainy bike commute without a care about getting wet. Aaaaahhh! (My shoes and bike gloves were still drying this morning.)

These folks know what I’m talking about — bikes abound = a lovely day.

lovelyday
Lovely Day

Waterproof enough

Last night’s commute home in Chicago was a wet one. Last year I dreaded commutes in this kind of springtime weather – cold, damp, soppy and windy. Somehow, though, I find myself enjoying the rides this week so far. (For me, it beats the snowy commutes that our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin are facing – and I wish you a return to springtime soon.)

But – the wet weather commuting brings its challenges: namely staying comfortable (reasonably dry and warm) while riding. During a summer rain, I don’t mind just getting wet, especially during my commute home. But when the thermometer reads 39-degrees and the wind is whipping out of the northeast and in my face at 15mph (gusts up to 35mph), I must strategically dress for my commute.

This evening, my layering went accordingly:
* first thing I put on was my cycling cap with visor to keep the rain out of my eyes.
* then my fleece balaclava to keep my head warm (and dry)
* helmet
layering for my head in rain

* I had worn light wool long underwear (top and bottom) since wool dries quickly and insulates well even when wet
* On my bottoms I wore a newly acquired pair of Marmot rain pants that I picked up from an online sale last fall; tonight was my first chance to really test them in a steady rainfall
* my usual hi-vis yellow commuter jacked (windproof and waterproof) from Endura covered my torso
* on my hands I wore simple wool gloves I picked up from an army-navy surplus store, covered by an outer windproof, water-resistant lobster style shell mitt.

The full outfit – upon wet arrival at home:
full rain gear

By the time I got home, I was reasonably dry. The good news:
My visor had done its job of keeping the rain out of my eyes. My waterproof pants performed excellently; too bad they aren’t cycling-specific… as they could have been a bit longer with better movement in the knees, but my legs were dry and they breathed well.

Unfortunately, some not so good news:
Seems the my waterproof jacket needs to be re-waterproofed. Thinking back, this jacket is two-years old, so it is time to wash and reapply a waterproof coating to the jacket. Water had seeped through to my arms but the rest of my torso did remain dry. Luckily, I was home, so I quickly changed into dry, comfortable loungewear for the night.

Earlier in the day my mom had sent me an email after her wet, messy morning commute (by car) saying “I thought about you as I drove … in the rain. I don’t know how you do it! Ride to work in the rain.” I responded that my commute was invigorating and so much more enjoyable than being stuck in a car (or a bus) – at least it seemed that way from the glum looks on peoples’ faces in their cars or waiting at the bus stops I pass along my route.

Overnight, my bike served as a drying rack for all my gear to dry before my commute today.
bike drying rack

And today I’m recharged for another day – dry! – of bike commuting.

What are your best stay dry/warm tips for this season?

TGIB on TGIF

After being sick for over a week, I woke up this morning itching and antsy for a return to my bike. Despite the rainy forecast and my lingering sinus “issues”, I pumped up Toro’s tires, lubed the chain and set out this morning – happy to be actively engaged in my commute again.

As I rode along, I realized it’s Friday and thought “TGI – BIKED!” Yes, Thank Goodness I’m Biking…. only one week off of my bike and I was already desperately missing my 2-wheel ride.

After finishing my workday yesterday feeling miserable, I decided that today’s determination to stay home sick or go in to work would be solely determined by my ability to ride. And I simply just wanted to ride!

So… Happy Friday! Have a safe bike commute home.

After the rain

What a Monday – overslept, awoke to dark gray skies and thunderstorms – BUT today only Chicago is having a return of spring weather. Hearing that forecast was all I needed to brighten my day.

This morning my commute could have been a soggy and chilly mess, but luckily my later start time meant that I only had to contend with gray skies and wet pavement. With temperatures hovering in the 60s (Fahrenheit), needless to say, the ride made for a wonderful start to a short work week.

Holiday decorations are already being installed along my route – though it still seems so early for the wreaths and the garland.

Tonight’s ride home may be amidst storms and a tornado watch… or maybe it, too, will happen after the rain.

Either way, I’m prepared; my rainy day check list:
* bike cap (visor to keep the rain out of my eyes)
* rain jacket (I keep a vinyl jacket in my bag just in case, a wind jacket and/or use a waterproof jacket when it gets colder)
* wool socks (just the lightweight Wigwams today)
* Gore-Tex sox (especially for when it’s cooler and when I know I’ll be riding in the rain) – not needed today
* Under the Weather Sit ‘n’ Spin 3/4 length pants
(but I also sometime opt to wear tights or leggings with the UTW Twizzle skirt)
* Waterproof Pannier from Banjo Bros.

Share your rainy day commuting stories and gear. In the summer rains, I’m usually willing to just let it rain on me. These fall and springtime rains are when we need to have the right layers to protect against the damp and the chill. I’m still figuring it out.

Review: Loeka’s Waterproof Shell Jacket

When the weather first started turning cooler and wetter last fall, I began testing a new waterproof jacket from the women’s mountain bike clothing company Loeka. This company makes women-specific gear primarily for mountain bikers, but this jacket is designed with commuters and everyday riders in mind helps them achieve their mission to simply “help build a strong community of female riders from beginners to professionals by encouraging more and more females to try/take up cycling.” With this jacket, the nasty elements certainly are one less excuse to not get out and ride. And with this company’s attention to fashion, riders will definitely be getting compliments on their chic “look”; I know I have received more than a few compliments while wearing this jacket (never before received while sporting my other waterproof commuter jacket) – nice!

It certainly holds up its end on being waterproof! After a rainy ride home you can see that all the water beads up on the surface and kept me dry underneath.
rain
Despite the higher visibility color (noted online as “Peppermint Figgy”), it doesn’t scream blinding yet still provides the rider with a light-colored jacket that stands out on the roads. (Loeka also offers this jacket in a blue color they call “Hey Ocean“.)

Originally I received this Loeka commuter jacket when the weather was still wonderfully warm and pleasant and couldn’t start testing until the fall/winter weather descended upon Chicago.

I debated about which size of this jacket would best fit me; their website provides detailed sizing charts, but I still found that my measurements fall somewhere in between, and after talking with the kind folks/owners of Loeka to help me sort out my sizing questions, I was more comfortable sizing down rather than up, since the cut on the torso for me was more than spacious and long enough; if I had gone with the larger size, the sleeves would have been a bit longer and shoulder area roomier for bulky layering underneath. According to the owners,

“The jacket has been designed to fit a little looser, that way the jacket can accommodate more girls, you can wear a soft shell or other layer underneath comfortably. The jacket can be used for crossover such as running, snow shoeing, spring skiing if you wanted, casually ect. Now depending on the girls body style and how she likes the jacket to fit, loose, fitted going up or down a size will most likely accommodate that girls specific fit preference.”

The cut on this jacket is long enough all the way around so as not to allow nasty road spray sneak up on your rear (not a longer tail on the back) and you can see how it fits while on the bike.
fit on bike

This jacket offers bike commuters/around town riders waterproof/weatherproof protection in a fashion-forward design. Unlike my previous waterproof jacket designed in a more (non-stylish) unisex manner, this shell offers the same 3-season protection from rain or snow or clear, cold and windy days – basically to “tackle all the not very nice weather” with a unique look. The most obvious feature that stands out is the angled zipper down the front (as opposed to all the other commuter jackets that have a straight zipper down middle front of the jacket). Beneath this zipper, a windproof flap (in a curvy design) blocks any wind/rain from sneaking through the zipper.
loeka flap

This angled full zipper down the right side of the jacket is balanced on the the left with another small zip at the neckline that not only provides visual symmetry to the design but also (according to Loeka) helps to provide easy ventilation while keeping you protected from the elements. Personally I found the ventilation offered by this smaller zip to be negligible at best, but visually it succeeds from a design perspective. There are also ventilation flaps on the front side of the jacket (along the chestline) but no equal venting on the back. Luckily the lack of the rear venting is not an issue since this jacket does boast the essential pit-zips for added ventilation – and I appreciated their length and the added breathability they offered to prevent overheating.
pit zips

From the functionality perspective, this jacket sports a hand pocket on either side of the angled zipper; the left side pocket reaches across the jacket and offers ample room for gloves, keys, etc – just don’t put too much in it since it stretches across the belly area in the front. The right-hand pocket (though small due to the angled zip) provides just enough room for your keys or any small accessory. At first I missed having a handy chest pocket which I’ve had on other jackets, but I soon came to appreciate the pockets at hip level (especially when just walking around town on my lunch break). There is also a rear zippered pocket (covered with a flap) to store extras while riding (cell phone, snack, etc) that doesn’t call attention to itself when not in use.

One bothersome feature for me was the lack of a higher/more fitted neckline, especially since I don’t like getting any drafty wind (or rain) sneaking in at my neck. (For full disclosure, my neck is one area that I like to keep warm in order to keep the rest of me warm, so this may not be an issue for other ladies.)
neck line
Loeka purposely left the neckline a bit looser to help accommodate a layer underneath comfortably and for 2010 they have made the neckline closer and not so loose. For the coldest days, I really appreciate the ability to comfortably layer-up under this jacket. All photos on their website reflect these adjustments for their 2010 line.

Technical Specs on this jacket from Loeka:

FABRIC
100% 75-denier polyester.
Lined with 100% polyester mesh.
TECHNICAL FEATURES
Waterproof up to 10,000ml with taped seams.
8,000ml breathability, armpit zippers and natural chest vent.
Reflective piping built in to back panels and sleeves.
Adjustable wrists and rear zip pocket.
Longer arm length designed for sports. (When you reach out, the sleeves do not creep up to expose bare skin.)

According to the owners of Loeka, the jacket should easily last 3-5 years of heavy use if properly maintained or even longer. If the jacket is being worn occasionally then it could last who knows how long. For care instructions, please see their site for care info which basically directs using a sport wash like Nikwax or Grangers to help keep the waterproofing last. Then hang dry, do not tumble dry.

With the winter thaw setting in and the rainy spring season on its way, this jacket is a great outer layer addition to any female cyclist’s wardrobe. (And fashion savvy, too!)

Please read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.