Bike blog: keeping dry

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Does wet weather stop you cycling? When I first got into commuting by bike, peering out the window in the morning to be faced with a heavy downpour was rather off-putting. However, as I’ve got hardier (or as alternative travel options have reduced) I’ve come to relish the challenge. Leaving home dressed as a penguin, waterproofed to the nines and squinting into the deluge brings its own kind of pleasure, I find; however, facing the unexpected shower unprepared remains among my least favourite cycling mishaps.

So, like with so many other things, a little preparation can make life a lot more comfortable. There’s little point in being quixotic about it – it rains, often inconveniently. Since I’ve already declared my stoic ambition to cycle on through the winter, being ready to do battle with the downpours is an essential element of that.

With no further ado, here’s my ideas for keeping yourself warm and toasty when the weather’s anything but. Leave us a comment below with yours!

  • keeping your posterior dry. There’s no doubt it’s miserable planting yourself on a damp seat, especially if the weather’s turned fine. It’s easy to improvise with some plastic bags, or you could keep a cloth on hand to wipe the moisture off. Alternatively, a waterproof seat cover can add a bit of style and colour – check out some of the quirky offerings on Etsy, or follow this tutorial to make your own!
  • avoid damp feet. Also deeply miserable, especially if your sodden shoes take a long time to dry out – protecting your feet from the weather is sure to improve your mood. Again, plastic bags can provide a quick-fix, or there are various over-shoe options available. Unfortunately not many of these seem to be aimed at commuters, designed instead to fit over clip-on cycling shoes. If you are intending to get over-shoes, try and pick something lurid and reflective to make the most of an item of clothing you’ll only use while cycling. The only fail-safe way to keep your feet dry, however, is to take a spare pair of shoes and change. It’s a pain to lug an inordinate amount of stuff around, for sure, but it’s also thoroughly enjoyable changing into fresh and dry clothes at the other end.
  • have a rain-avoidance stash. Having a spare set of clothes or waterproofs at work may do much to improve your wet weather cycling experience. Waterproofs which fold up compactly may also be a great option for keeping in your bag at all times. Keep an eye out at charity stores for a set of spares.
  • put on some long mudguards. Mudguards make a massive difference, preventing a very wet bum on a fine day with wet roads. They’ll also protect your chain and derailleur from getting saturated with petrol and whatever else is lingering on the roads.
  • get a decent set of waterproofs. A good set of waterproofs are probably the most essential element in any cyclist’s weather protection kit. Ideally, you want them to be comfortable, breathable, long lasting, fixable, and multi-purpose. If you can stand it, getting a waterproof jacket in glorious hi vis yellow with reflective stripes might be a great investment. Don’t forget about the second hand, market, either – outdoor equipment does have a cost, socially and environmentally, and it’s worth considering how and from what the garment is constructed.