“I don’t want to get stranded if it starts raining.”
Fall is officially here, which means some rainy days lie ahead. This past Sunday was a foretaste of the feast to come. Rain does not have to get in the way of your biking ventures, there is plenty of gear that will keep you warm, dry and visible. As a low maintenance cyclist, below is a list of what I consider to be the basics for rainy bike trips.
- A Long Rain Jacket: I recommend a longer jacket that will also cover your lower half. I am a big fan of the North Face K Jacket, which I purchased at REI exactly for this purpose. Take your rain coverage one step further by getting one of these rain capes by Iva Jean which are not only stylish, but specifically designed for biking (including reflective piping).
- Waterproof Bag: The good news is, if you’re just getting started and don’t need more things to buy, any plastic bag is a waterproof bag (hooray!) If you’re not quite at the point of purchasing a new waterproof pannier (pannier = a bag designed to hang on your bike rack) just cover the bag you do have with a plastic bag. You can also easily make your regular backpack waterproof by purchasing a waterproof backpack shell (like this one made by SnugPak) to throw on when it rains.
- Sun or Safety Glasses: As you’re cruising through the rain, you’ll have raindrops hitting you in the face, which (spoiler alert) makes it difficult to see. Given that rain doesn’t usually happen while it’s also sunny (ie sunglasses won’t usually work), I’ve purchased a pair of simple safety glasses from the local hardware store for about $6. Although they are slightly reminiscent of rec specs, they get the job done and the fact that you’re on a sweet bike will make up for any lost pride.
- Saddle Cover: This, again, may just be a plastic bag. If you have a nice bike seat (like the one that came with my Boda Boda), you’ll want to protect it from the elements. Given that you will likely be parking outside, bring a plastic grocery bag or shower cap to put over your seat to keep it dry. Of course, if you’re feeling fancy, you can purchase an actual waterproof seat cover like this.
Boots or Shoe Covers: I’d be lying if I said I was always diligent in putting these on. Often, if I know I’m only going a mile or two, I’ll just tough it out. However, there have been days at work that I’ve regretted not doing this (mmm, soggy Toms). Boots and shoe covers are easy enough to have on hand for rainy days. Complete the look with waterproof pants for longer commutes.
- Lights: Even when it’s technically daylight, turn on your front and rear lights to add to your visibility. Of course, bright colors are also helpful.
- Familiarity with Public Transport and/or Mental List of Friends with Bike Racks: This year has been a year of not just rain, but gusty scary thunderstorms that send branches flying. When the weather becomes torrential, know your options to bail you out if you get stranded.
(By the way – if you see a video at the bottom of these posts – have no fear, it’s just an advertisement from WordPress so I can keep blogging for free)