SoCal is getting blasted as we speak by El Nino. It’s wet, slick and even a little windy out, but that doesn’t mean you should stop riding your bike. Need to get groceries? Get on your bike. Headed to work? Get on your bike. Afraid to give it a shot? We’re here to help with three tips for riding in the rain & being more Badass than El Nino.
People don’t like being wet & cold. So dress for the weather. The key is to be covered thoroughly in waterproof gear. A lightweight rain suit over regular clothes not only keeps rain out but it keeps warmth in. A hood on your jacket will prevent water from running down your neck.
Waterproof boots or galoshes over your shoes are a must to keep your feet dry. If you’re feet are wet it doesn’t matter what else you wear. You will be cold. We use a rain jacket with a hood that fits over our helmet, and a pair of ski goggles to keep the rain out of our eyes. With the right gear you’ll be dry & warm.
It sounds like a lot but it is versatile equipment & can be found fairly affordably if you put it together in pieces. We suggest buying last years models on sale. That Patagonia rain shell was only $60 on sale. Our rain pants were $20 at REI. Both have lasted years. If you ski or snowboard you probably already have almost everything you need. If not here is a list:
- Waterproof Rain Pants
- Waterproof Rain Jacket with hood
- Waterproof boots or Galoshes
- Bike Helmet (winter liner optional)
- Ski Goggles (or clear lens glasses)
2. Bikes, Fenders, Cages & Seat Covers. Oh my!
Decide if you have the right bike for riding in the rain. Mountain bikes, hybrids, cross bikes & cruisers work best just because the tires will have more traction on slick surfaces. If you’re an accomplished cyclist you can do it on a road bike, but it will be harder and we don’t reccomend it. Plus, road bikes generally don’t accomodate fenders as easily.
If you’re dressed right you can live without them, but fenders kick ass. They’ll take your domination of El Nino up a notch. When you ride through puddles the rain gets caught in the fender and not get sprayed all over your crotch & legs. No judgement if you’re into that kind of thing. Plus, fenders are great in warm SoCal weather too. They prevent sand from getting caught up in your tire tread and thrown into your derailleur & crank making cleanings less needed & preventing wear & tear. You can have permanent fenders or easy on/off roll-up fenders.
If you use cages you’ll want to make sure your waterproof boots/shoes fit in them. It’s something people forget. Finally, if you’re out in the rain your seat will eventually get wet, but keeping a seat cover for when you’re parked outside the coffee shop will help keep your butt dry later and if you have a nice leather seat will prevent damage. A seat cover doesn’t have to be fancy just functional. We use any plastic bag we can reuse from the grocery store.
3. Embrace it.
Once you’re out there embrace it. The rain is coming down, but you’ll be staying warm & dry. Let yourself have some fun. Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was jump in puddles? Now is your chance to recapture that. Hit the puddles. Skid in some mud. Let your outer layers get wet. Let them get a little dirty. You might enjoy it so much you’ll go farther than you need too just because it’s fun being outside when convention says to stay inside. Have an adventure, and enjoy the empty bike paths.
Know that when you roll up to a stop light the line of cars you just past is filled with people who think you’re nuts. They are also a little bit jealous because they’re easy listening kind of people and you’re more Rock N’ Roll. Everyone wants to be more Rock N’ Roll. So get your rain gear on and get there. El Nino ain’t got nothing on you.