Last night I woke up suddenly. It sounded as though the heavens were falling. It rained proverbial cats and dogs. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first but the noise certainly woke me up quickly. And in my sleepy haze it took a few seconds before I realized –it was raining, and hard. You don’t want to hear it and I can barely admit it to myself but summer is almost over. I’m not trying to be a pessimist, I love winter, but most people fight tooth and nail to hang on to that summer feeling. But I have a question: Are you ready for the changing seasons?
It seems like only a week ago I was stripping the fenders off my commuter and enjoying my daily ride, basking in the sunshine. Wow, does time ever fly! I know not everyone had the summer we did here in Vancouver, but I only vaguely remember it raining twice. Not to rain on anyone’s parade but usually we end up reaching a fairly consistent rainfall throughout the year and with fall nipping on our heels it’s almost time to start thinking about… dare I say it? It’s almost time to start thinking about wet and cooler weather riding gear.
Okay, no one wants to admit that summer is coming to an end, but nothing is worse than waking up ready for you commute only to realize that it’s cold and pouring rain outside, and you don’t have the right gear for the ride.
But what is the right gear?
I learned a few things last May when I started doing a 64km commute a couple of times a week. The learning spanned a couple of days and the curve was steep; I suffered on those cold, wet days while I was getting the hang of it. But I figure I can help others avoid the mistakes I made with a few tips.
For cooler days remember the key word is ‘warmers.’ Get yourself leg and arm warmers, trust me they work wonders, keeping your knees and elbows warm makes the ride much more comfortable. Shoe covers are a must, sure they may not look super cool, but wow they are necessary – it took an hour for my toes to regain feeling after my first long commute. If you are going to be riding in the rain, even on occasion then get waterproof shoe covers. Finally warm, waterproof gloves and a thermal beanie cap that fits under your helmet will make sure you are stoked to ride even in cooler temps.
Next if you are going to commute in the wet, make sure you have full coverage fenders, they will protect you and your bike from road grime, rocks and debris. You’ll also want to get a waterproof jacket and pants, breathable is best but you can get inexpensive rain gear that will do the trick, especially for shorter commutes.
Make sure that the bags you carry your gear in, whether they are panniers, a messenger bag or a backpack are fully waterproof, showing up with a wet change of clothes can really ruin your morning. On colder days layer underneath your waterproof gear to make sure you are still warm and dry and you can use fewer layer if its warmer on your ride home.
Finally wear eyeware with lighter tinted lenses; coming down a hill at mock chicken and being blinded by rain can end poorly.
Don’t worry there is still some summer left but it’s good to be ready for when it changes, Mother Nature can be unpredictable at the best of times. The list above is quick and dirty, and meant to get you thinking about the months to come so you are not caught unprepared. I’m sure I forgot something but I’ll try and provide more updates when summer really bows out to the fall weather.
Keep on riding the good ride.