Friday, December 18, 2009

Bicycling to Work Part 3: The Drought is Over

I woke up to hear rain falling outside my window. It's been ages since I rode to work in the rain. We had a serious drought here for over a year, and rain was an anomaly. Then, in May, the Takara needed some repairs so I started riding my Raleigh ("Cecil"), which has chrome rims and thus does not stop in the rain. So, I avoided riding on rainy days. Pretty simple. It's easy to take the train, and there are never more than one or two rainy days per week.

But now Cecil is getting serviced (a.k.a. sitting in the living room with parts detached) and I have no excuse to avoid the rain. Except for the wet aspect of it. But as I mentioned earlier this week, I now have the Giant Orange monstrosity shaped somewhat like a rain poncho. So today was the real test.

I wore stockings and some fairly quick-drying shoes. It was only in the upper 30s so I wasn't too worried about staying warm. I did layer some matching legwarmers (yes, actual legwarmers) over it all, and that was perfect. Then I had a sweater, jacket, and the poncho.

I topped it off with a wool felt cap that sheds water. It even has a brim to keep raindrops out of my eyes. I was feeling pretty clever for about a block, until a gust of wind whipped it off of my head and into a rushing gutter. A little comic scene ensued as I chased it down the street, pushing the bike with one hand and trying to reach into the flowing water with the other. Ha ha.

I managed to recover the hat, now soaked, and stuffed it into my basket. For my head I switched to a knit hat I had brought just-in-case.

The whole situation was made more difficult by my decision to hook the poncho hand loops over my handlebars. This makes it a lot easier to shift, signal, and generally use my hands for things. But it means I am attached to the bike, at least temporarily. It also means that the front of the poncho hangs over the handlebars and covers my handlebar-mounted headlight. This would be a problem at night. But for the daylight morning commute, I felt sure that the Giant Orangeness was more effective than any headlight.

The actual commute was fine, mostly. My feet did get soaked but that's about it. I figured out that the two straps hanging down inside the poncho are intended for tying around one's waist to prevent the poncho from flapping around in the wind. Because it was very windy. Or gusty rather. In the more exposed stretches of my commute, it felt like riding through a wall of cold molasses.

Still, aside from the giant puddles in the road that soaked my feet when I had to stop in them, and the wind that slowed me to a crawl, it was the usual uneventful trip. And of course, there was the well-intentioned but insulting sympathy from one of my colleagues when I got to the office. No, I don't want a ride in your car. Thanks.


  1. Fab! I'm all about tights and legwarmers :) I've never tried a poncho, but it looks pretty stylish from what I can see.

  2. @Dottie: I wrote a full review of the poncho on 12/15... I'm not sure about stylish but it sure will keep a girl dry, and for that reason I'm happy to use it. It's kind of like riding inside a small tent.