I’m an expert on rain. All Seattleites are. I kid! I kind of suck when it comes to preparing for inclement weather: it was dry when I walked out the door at 12:30 and even though I knew it was raining two miles away and my trusty Dark Sky app promised light sleet, I wore jeans and my snowboard jacket. The jacket is fine in rain, but my legs got wet. Despite the photobombing toddler, I think you can see what happened:
But let’s back up three days for a better rainy day story: I met up with Ann DeOtte Kaufman of Iva Jean on Tuesday for coffee and a bike ride. In the most recent issue of the Cascade Courier she refers to herself as a fair-weather biker (Bikenomics, page 5), but I don’t buy it. Tuesday were wetwetwet, but Ann was happy to do some wet weather testing of a next-generation Iva Jean Rain Cape.
I was just happy to be led around Capitol Hill, an area I haven’t explored much (along with any other neighborhood with “Hill” or “Heights” in the name). Here we are, stopped at one of Capitol Hill’s multiple bike corrals (forgot this little bike fits in the right way…oops), right outside Cafe Presse (ooh, where the fixies hang out). New territory!
I think it may not have rained enough for a final verdict on the new rain cape, but Ann stayed nice and dry. Me: not so much. My upper half is still inadequately protected with Mr. Family Ride’s rain jacket, but I recently got some Rainlegs rain chaps at Hub and Bespoke (where one can also get an Iva Jean Rain Cape) and my legs are staying dry for a change!
The Rainlegs are great for a number of reasons. As you can see from the first picture, the only part of my legs that gets wet is the tops of my thighs. I used to occasionally wear a supercheap non-cycling-specific rain pants, but I really dislike them. For one thing, they’ve gotten a little too small (they didn’t shrink–I grew). Rainlegs are forgiving to weight fluctuations.
My cheapie rain pants were a pain to pull on–not to mention that I had to remove shoes before putting them on or taking them off. Rainlegs are just three buckles and two velcros.
I keep the under-the-butt buckets fastened at all times because it’s a bit awkward to reach behind oneself to fasten them. And the buckled strap makes for an easy loop to drape over a door knob.
The main problem for someone coming from rain pants is to remember that it’s not OK to sit on a wet saddle. Yeah, I’ve made this mistake a few times, but I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it.
Tuesday was the first time I wore the Rainlegs with my road bike (my posture on the Big Dummy is fairly upright) and I wasn’t sure they’d do the trick, but they performed just fine. As a matter of fact, my pants stayed completely dry for the first time. I’ve previously only worn them with jeans and while they would have done great if I’d hopped on the bike, ridden any number of miles to my destination, and then removed them to hang up, all would have been fine. But riding a few miles to preschool and then puttering around, dripping for ten minutes before getting back on the bike to ride a few miles to elementary school resulted in some wicking. But now I realize that was just a quirk of stretch denim. The slacks I wore on Tuesday, while they didn’t look so bikerish with the chaps, fared beautifully during the two-school dropoff.
Now on Wednesday I wore denim and ended up with a random wet spot. But certainly drier than no chaps. Don’t mind the wet socks. I haven’t tackled the problem of leaky footwear yet.
If you’re ready to think ahead to July and dry-weather garb, check out the new offerings from Iva Jean. And get inspired by Ann’s recent article for the Walk Score Blog: 5 Barriers to Women Bicycling More.
Seattle: not just for rain. Especially if one has Rainlegs.