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.
I think I will always have to wear rain pants because I’ve never been able to remember not to sit on a wet saddle…
Oh, I think you’d adapt. Now if only I could learn to bring that awesome SFBC seat cover out with me!!
I know you have nice new rain pants so you’re set for now…and hearing you rave about your pants is what made me realize maybe mine were so sucky because they weren’t specifically designed for riding a bike in.
My solution for extra, emergency seat covers: the plastic (ack! Don’t tell Dorie!) bags that diapers come in. I buy boxes of diapers so get 2 clear plastic bags in each box and I squirrel them away like the little hoarder that I am to cover my seat. (I gave the cute cover with elastic around the bottom that Elle sent up to Matt for his bike as it sits so much that the wind can end up blowing the non-elasticized bags off.) If I get wet my clothing can make dye in the leather saddle stain my clothes just the same as if I forget to cover the seat and the saddle itself is wet. Either way, I just sit on a dry bag. That’s why I have 1 or 2 in my “tool box” (paper grocery bag) in the box, besides the one that’s supposed to be on my seat. I don’t retire the bags until the are ripped enough they can’t do the job, then I put trash in them, then I throw them out.
Wow, look at me justify my plastic use. Feeling guilty.
The whole point really was that I think I want some of those chaps. Combined with my seat cover (and a ton of wool) I think I just may stay pretty dry.
I think the fact that you are reusing the bags from a necessary purchase is justification enough! Don’t feel guilty. I’ve been fortunate to not have peemergencies that couldn’t be contained in wetbags, but BusChick is a big champion of the emergency plastic bag.
Whoa, wait, what about with skirts? Would the under the butt business mean they won’t work with skirts?
Oh yeah! I meant to mention that they wouldn’t work very well with a skirt. I have seen rain skirts, but a rain apron would certainly be nice. Unless it was very windy, it’d probably lay flat and wouldn’t need to attach to the legs…but I guess it’d be straightforward enough to have a buckle under each knee.
Presse! Halfway between home and kindergarten. K-gartener knows he can demand a stop for brioche if he is speedy in the morning, and for the chocolate chaud you eat with a spoon if he keeps his undies dry in the afternoon. We do block the sidewalk a bit sticking out of the corral. If I quit my office job maybe we can meet there some day.
Ooh, what a tasty routine! Maybe we can meet somewhere more convenient to you so you don’t have to quit your job :) Though it is rather nice to bike around in the middle of the day while others are stuck at their office jobs. I know my life of leisure time is limited so I’m trying to make the most of it!