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Portlanders pedal through the storm

Posted by on September 30th, 2013 at 11:12 am

Rain rider
Undeterred.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland was pelted with a serious storm this weekend. High winds and heavy rainfall lasted throughout all of Saturday and Sunday and while forecasters say the worst is over, this morning’s commute was far from a cakewalk.

But like always when the weather turns tough, there are still a lot of Portlanders who will bike right through it. I headed out with my camera this morning to capture some of the action.

Sideways rain hammered the bike commuters I saw this morning in north and downtown Portland. Yet while the number of riders was down significantly from an average weekday, there was still a relatively steady stream of people on bikes. In addition to rain and wind, they had to dodge fallen tree limbs, curbside lakes, and all manner of debris on the road.

It’s also worth noting that today is the final day of the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. Speaking of which, here’s BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky showing how it’s done…

Riders in the storm-16

And as the rest of the hardy folks in the photos below illustrate, we learned this morning why the BTA calls it a “challenge”…

Riders in the storm-13
Riders in the storm-1
Riders in the storm-2

Riders in the storm-4
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Riders in the storm-6
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Riders in the storm-8
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Riders in the storm-10
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Riders in the storm-12
Riders in the storm-14
Riders in the storm-17
Riders in the storm-18
Riders in the storm-19
Riders in the storm-22
Riders in the storm-24

And then a ray of hope that the worst is over…

Riders in the storm-23

Did you ride this morning and/or over the weekend? If not, why not? If so, what was it like?

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  • Todd Boulanger September 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I got lucky and made it between the shower fronts…my “Weather” App using “Dark Sky” helped me to surf between the rain.

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  • dan September 30, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Yep, I rode this morning…it was about like it always is in the winter, a soggy sufferfest — just a little bit warmer than Dec-Feb.

    One thing I’m surprised to see in these photos is how few people have eye protection. Clear lenses do sometimes get smeary/blurry, but I’ve always thought it’s worth it to keep the rain out of your eyes. A helmet visor or hat with brim under the helmet can help a lot too.

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  • mabsf September 30, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Rode this morning, rode yesterday… was amazed to find not too much flooding (at least on my route!)

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  • Anne Hawley September 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Overslept, left *very* late for work, and hit actual rays of near-almost-kinda-sorta-sunshine. I about went blind. :D

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  • SilkySlim September 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I had about 50% torrential and 50% light rain riding at 8:30am. Rain coat and brimmed cap served me well.

    Car traffic seemed way worse than normal in inner SE and along Naito.

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  • Dave Miller September 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Rode this morning to test out the bike cape/poncho I got at Monkey King for $6! Verdict: I was dry from sweat and rain with only the cape and tall rubber boots. Just jeans and a t-shirt underneath. I was impressed. I just hope the off-gassing of patroleum smell from the material stops sometime soon.

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    • Todd Hudson September 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      But I bet it doesn’t project smugness like my $200 Showers Pass jacket!

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      • rainbike September 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

        I bet Dave Miller will be the one feeling smug after two winters or less.

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  • daisy September 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I had an early day today and was surprised there weren’t more branches and limbs down. The only bike lane that was blocked was on Broadway going west to the river, as in a couple of photos above. It looks like PBOT was on top of things, at least in the area of my commute.

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  • Paul Atkinson September 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    There was plenty of deadfall in the bike lane on southbound Barbur, but otherwise my ride this morning was relatively peaceful. I even saw a patch of blue sky in there!

    I’m geared up for reasonably heavy rain, though, so I don’t know whether to root for drier or wetter this afternoon. :)

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  • spare_wheel September 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    This type of cool rainy weather is perfect for cycling in the city. Motorists drive more cautiously and the refreshing rain is like an invitation to power up hills.

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  • Ron September 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Rode today, and stayed dry due to lucky timing. I expect to be immersed in it this afternoon, though. No worries. It’s Portland.

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  • pdxpaul September 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I swear that I was about blown backwards uphill. Blustery stuff. The only reason I rode was because there were too many puddles to make running 6 miles a more pleasant alternative. Are there other ways to get to work?

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  • Jason September 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I was surprised by the most number of bikes I’ve ever ridden with going through Ladd’s to the Hawthorne. It was an early summer sized crowd, easily. And the most I’ve seen in probably a month.

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    • Peter James September 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      That’s great to hear. Unfortunately, the bike rack I use that was so full I often had to find another place to lock up during the Summer has only had one bike there if there was the slightest hint of rain in the forecast. I wish more people would just try riding in the rain. I used to be freaked out until I did it a few times and realized it’s not the horrible experience I had imagined it would be.

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  • Nate September 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    The ride in this morning was indeed a good harbinger of things to come. Worst part of my partial reverse commute (N Lombard and Interstate to SE 30th and Powell) is the wind in my face – often both directions. (It’s normal to face N-bound wind in the morning which flops around by the end of the day to SE-bound breeze.)

    Went with the flip-flops and quick rinse in the work shower + dry socks and shoes. I’ll trade that for shoe-covers once it’s actually cold but works great for now.

    My weak link is the not-waterproof-anymore backpack which left my “dry” change of clothes not quite so dry. Se la vie!

    All that said, I couldn’t help but whistle and sing for the last ~20 blocks as the rain picked up to a downpour (SE around 8:30a). So much better than a cup of coffee (though that helps warm up afterwards!) And a good way to close out a 100% BCC!

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  • Livellie September 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I loved my rainy ride into work this morning! I get a kick out out of passing all those cars stuck in the traffic…coasting with my feet up through big puddles…dodging fallen branches but going on my way with a big wet smile on my face.

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  • Emily September 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Looks like most of the riders in the photographs could have used more light with the diminished visibilty.

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  • Meteorite September 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Does foul weather inspire helmet use or is this a new trend? Rarely does a series of photos on this site contain 100% helmet usage…

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    • rainbike September 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      That’s one of the first things I noticed too – even a Petzl Meteor climbing helmet. Being cheap, I’m a fan of dual purpose gear, whenever feasible. I ride with my small climbing pack.

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    • Alex Reed September 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      I usually wear my helmet when it’s raining, if only to secure my baseball cap onto my head from the wind! Also it’s generally cooler when it’s raining so the extra warmth of a helmet can be a plus rather than a minus (which I regard the extra warmth as all summer and hence rarely wear a helmet then).

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    • JV September 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      I am actually one of those “foul weather helmet users”. Really, statistically the winter, rainy times are the most hazardous in terms of bike casualty per miles traveled. Those are the only times that I wear a helmet, when it actually offers some functional benefit (keeping my head dry and warmer) rather than some perceived safety value. I have been in various rapid decelerations (crashes), both with and without a helmet, on-road and off, and see it as just one of many risk factors in this world. As is often noted, there is little helmet use in most other countries, but for some reason we Americans are obsessed with the topic of personal liability and victim blaming.

      Another explanation is that as less experienced cyclists are deterred by the rain, the more all-seasons cyclists there are, who are more likely to adhere to a pro-helmet behavior bias.

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  • John Liu September 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I love riding to work in driving rain. I get this romantic, dramatic, heroically strong feeling, a “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” moment, as I stride, heroically dripping, into the office elevator.

    However, I hate riding to work in stiff headwinds. At dark o’clock crossing the Burnside Bridge into downtown, it is always a headwind. It is hard to feel strong and heroic when you and your swift road bike are plodding like granny on a mobility scooter.

    I think I will place a Craigslist ad seeking a motorpacer.

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    • Jeff October 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      You win the internet for me today with this quote. I always feel this way in a strong headwind. A good tailwind makes me feel like Superman!

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  • Sean September 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Saturday evening from Vancouver to Portland. It felt like I was pushing against a brick wall all the way in. Then there was that large tree that fell behind me on Lloyd near Oregon.

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  • Sarah September 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Today I learned that I need a new waterproof jacket— the old jacket just isn’t cutting it. Fun riding though.

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    • Nathan September 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Try washing it with a waterproof friendly soap! Dirt hurts waterproofness and a bottle of soap is a bit cheaper than a new coat.

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      • Kristen September 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

        Can you recommend a “waterproof friendly soap”? This is relevant to my interests.

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        • Alan 1.0 September 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm

          REI has instructions for washing breathable rain gear here. They or Next Adventure or most any outdoor store sells appropriate wash and DWR refinish supplies. I use Nikwax; I’m sure other products are good, too.

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          • Nathan October 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

            What Alan said! I’ve only used Nikwax (which smells interesting, but works), but didn’t want to push any brands.

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    • gutterbunnybikes September 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      Not made specifically for cycling, but Duluth Trading Company sells line of work wear made from fire hose material, lots of the same features of “cycling” clothes like gussets in the crotch and shoulders, extra long back of coats, vents, lots of pockets etc… Most of which are about half the cost of “cycling” clothing. They don’t have any reflective stuff if you think that stuff actually helps. But they are comfortable, water proof, and durable.

      I use their pants and jackets at my job for winter work and they keeps me bone dry (8+ hours a day – without the big rubber jackets/bibs) and the waterproofing has never washed out. Also they’re durable enough that even with constant exposure to welding sparks, snags, etc… that I can get about a year before replacing the pants when all other brands last only a month or two at best. Jackets tend to not last as long, but that’s because the sparks gather in the elbows and between the cuffs of the jacket and the welding gloves when I’m welding verticals and overheads which will burn holes through them. If It wasn’t for the welding I’m sure I get 3+ years out of all them all.

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  • Lynne September 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    200k brevet pre-ride on Saturday. 81 miles of heavy rain and soul-sucking headwinds (Beaverton-Banks-Forest Grove-Hagg Lake-Gaston-Yamhill-Carlton), then 44 miles of heavy rain and tailwinds (back to Beaverton). At least it wasn’t COLD. Since we took one for the team, you can enjoy the ride day-of in really nice weather. Sat Oct 5 – http://www.orrandonneurs.org/rba/2013/Scavenger/Scavenger_info.html

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  • Ian C. September 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    love the facial expressions

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    • Kristen September 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Me too! All the unintentional grimacing.

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  • Slow Joe Crow September 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I rode in this morning, although my commute is mostly by MAX. Fanno Creek Park was semi flooded in spots so I was glad I had my Gore-Tex shoes and rain pants on. I actually had worse conditions on Friday with bad headwinds in Hillsboro.

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  • AndyC of Linnton September 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Got to experience the N. Willamette “Pine needles until April” lane a little early this season!

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  • Beth Hamon October 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

    After a summer spent mostly in the hot and very muggy midwest, riding in Portland’s Autumn rainfest has been delightful. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

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  • Marty October 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I noticed a lot of people riding that morning with me when it was still dark out. Bonus for us, the rain had not started.

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  • Travis Fulton October 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Leaf chum is piling up, watch those turns!

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  • joe kurmaskie October 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Quote from my 7 year old after riding to and from school together every day through rain last week and today. He’s just started riding his own bike beside me. “That rain can’t stop us. It’s just rain.”

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