Rain, landslides, and flooded streets: How are you handling the storm?

Posted by on December 7th, 2015 at 9:16 am

Riders in the storm-1

After some very cold weather last month things have now gotten wet. Very wet. Streets throughout the city are flooded, we’ve seen at least one closure due to a landslide, and of course as a result traffic is even crazier than usual.

So, how are you holding up out there?

Riders in the storm-11

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Riders in the storm-4

Here are a few of the latest updates on road conditions…

We know from past experience that many of you are not deterred by the rain.

Are your DIY rain-proofing hacks working? What about that spendy new rain jacket and pants you invested in? Or have you just given up and hopped in a car or transit?

There’s talk of a big rally tomorrow (Tuesday) night to celebrate the Timbers MLS Cup win. If you plan to be there on a bike, do you have some tips to share about dealing with this wet weather?

Share your experiences and tips, or just simply vent and commiserate, in the comments below.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

76 Comments
  • Avatar
    Lillian December 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Rode in when it was still totally dark and there were a LOT of puddles out there. My rain poncho and full fenders kept me dry except what got into my boots. They’re now drying next to the heater at my office.

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    boriskat December 7, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Not gonna lie, I took the train today for the first time in months. After getting tagged during the last monsoon a few weeks back, and seeing how awful traffic patterns were, I’m not sorry…

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    ethan December 7, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I got most of the way into work on my bike and realized that I forgot my work laptop at home.

    My light rain jacket was mostly ineffective and my regular ol’ pants sure didn’t help. I was DRENCHED by the time I got back home. After drying off and changing, I decided to hop on the bus.

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      ethan December 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Oh, and Ainsworth and Vancouver was completely underwater when I went through earlier. I doubt it’s any better now.

      BES really needs to invest in a lot more bioswales and such.

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    Keviniano December 7, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Last year I got a boot and glove warmer to keep at work. I never used it last winter, but am glad for it this year.

    SE Ankeny just west of 39th was a lake, at least up to my bottom bracket. Note to self: take Couch next time.

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    Peter R December 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

    MAX, both ways. Just a heck of a lot easier.

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    SilkySlim December 7, 2015 at 9:47 am

    I got new gloves on the first night of Chanukah!! Definitely a wet one, but decently warm. Biggest puddle I hit was in the little tiled sculpture area just off Westbank Esplanade.

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    Paul Wilkins December 7, 2015 at 9:49 am

    There’s no escape.

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    RH December 7, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I worn rain pants and a $10 poncho. It actually kept my fanel shirt underneath completely dry.

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  • Adam Herstein
    Adam Herstein December 7, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Let it rain, let it pour, let the Portland Timbers score!

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      davemess December 7, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      True that.
      This mornings commute definitely too some of my joy from yesterday’s historic win away though… 🙁

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    Granpa December 7, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Got into the office warm but damp. All my gear will be dry by the end of the day so I can start out dry and arrive home warm but damp. the wet leaves are a hazard.

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    Aixe Djelal December 7, 2015 at 9:57 am

    My fenders, newer Showers Pass pants and jacket and ancient, falling apart Sugoi shoe covers kept me pretty dry on the ride from SE Portland to downtown at 8am today. Drivers seemed to have trouble seeing through the downpour, but were driving pretty slowly. There were a few giant puddles on SE Salmon where storm drains were blocked. After crossing Grand, the bike lanes leading up to the Hawthorne Bridge were full of water, running like little rivers. I wound up riding in the buffer zone a couple of times to stay out of it. Definitely have to lube my chain after I get home tonight!

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      rainbike December 7, 2015 at 10:23 am

      I was one of those drivers, out on a 6:30 AM errand, having trouble seeing through the downpour. It was difficult to see even the most well lit cyclists – and as a cyclist, I was trying to be extra vigilant. That experience convinced me to take the train today, rather than ride to work. No regrets.

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        Aixe Djelal December 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

        Good perspective, rainbike. I’m a super well lit cyclist, but always assume drivers do not see me, even more so today. If necessary, I will get off my bike and walk it on sidewalks if it feels too sketchy on the ride home.

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        LC December 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        If you can’t see other road users you should not be driving.

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          rainbike December 7, 2015 at 2:56 pm

          Thanks for the reminder about taking extra care while driving in sub-optimal conditions. Believe me, I did. It was difficult to see cyclists, but not impossible.

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    pietro December 7, 2015 at 10:09 am

    That was the most fun I’ve had on a commute in a while. Went through every puddle in my path. One was deep enough that it undid the velcro on my shoes. Love a good adventure to start the day.

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    Electric mayhem December 7, 2015 at 10:21 am

    My jacket leaked through the zipper but the worst thing was my glasses kept fogging up and I couldn’t see anything.

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    Buzz December 7, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Streets flooded everywhere in the CEID; raw sewage discharging into the street at SE Washington / SE Stark and SE 3rd.

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      Dan December 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Yuck! Thank you for posting, I will stick to Hawthorne bridge rather than the Morrison today.

      I wore my $15 yellow rain slicker today and some rain pants, arrived at work with my feet soaked, pants damp, and shirt bone-dry. Remind me again why we all bought in to the “waterproof breathable” scam?

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        Aixe Djelal December 7, 2015 at 11:23 am

        Rubber rain gear will definitely keep you dry from the outside elements, but I sweat more in rubber than in the breathable waterproof stuff, which is why I buy into the breathability feature. Ultimately, whatever works for people is what they should use. Happy riding and stay dry!

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      B. Carfree December 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Wow! I’d heard of older districts in cities having such issues decades ago, but I thought everyone had followed the Clean Water Act directives and cleaned that s*** up. I guess Portland has some work to do in terms of basic infrastructure/public health.

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        GlowBoy December 8, 2015 at 12:44 pm

        Pretty much every news story, ever, about the Big Pipe project made clear that it would not prevent all sewer overflows, just the vast majority of them.

        It was expected that it would still overflow 2-3 times per year in major rain events. And I think yesterday qualified.

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    mw December 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

    My wettest ride in recent memory. Not too bad since it is relatively warm. I just wish there was a way to keep my glasses from fogging up.

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      soren December 7, 2015 at 11:42 am

      contacts?

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      Paul December 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Contacts, or you can buy anti-fog stuff. I’ve never used it on glasses personally, however.

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    axoplasm December 7, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Took the kids (5mi) by cargo bike today. They wear full raingear + irrigation boots year round — today so did I. We were damp but not soaked at school. On the return trip home though my raingear soaked entirely through, I was wet everywhere but my feet by the time I got home. (This is why I usually don’t wear raingear — instead wear wool & spandex, & change at work.)

    Floods around Crystal Springs area. Herons on the golf course. Deep water at the Woodstock/Bybee bend (around Tolman) — over my BB & Hubs at the center of the street.

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      axoplasm December 7, 2015 at 10:53 am

      They had great fun BTW…giggled the whole way to school.

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      B. Carfree December 7, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      A former student of mine used to ride to the lab in a speedo on days like today. Within two minutes of arrival, he was towelled off, dressed and ready to work.

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        El Biciclero December 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm

        Frickin’ awesome.

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    Dawn December 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

    My commute is only 2.5 miles one-way…any longer than that and I’m sure I would have been soaked. As it was, I arrived with just some dampness to my hair. My Columbia rain pants and rain coat kept me dry and I wore my Hunter boots. SE Clinton was in decent shape, although it was hairy/slick on those sections of the new path to the Tilikum that have painting or other treatments. I actually didn’t content with many drivers today, but will be careful on the way home in the dark. Hoping for a bit of a respite this afternoon.

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    Pedal PT December 7, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Rode in at 9am after dropping kids off.. West on Clinton from SE 52nd is was fairly smooth, all things considering, although I got soaked shoes/socks/underwear on my short commute.

    In anyone needs any assistance today, please stop in our office at 25th and Clinton to dry out!

    Some of my best tips for ‘pouring rain’ biking include:
    – Always have a spare pair of socks and underwear at the office (both came in handy today, whew!)
    – Use ziplock bags inside your waterproof bike bag for added rainproofing for pone, wallet, etc.
    – If you wear glasses, a short brimmed cycling cap works great to keep the rain out of your eyes/glasses.
    – I prefer the hood of my jacket over the helmet if your jacket can stretch enough, and still allow you to zip up fully
    – Layering is usually best, as rain might tends to soak into your jacket if it’s on it’s 2nd or 3rd season: start with a wool/wicking base layer, followed waterproof-ish jacket or vest, and then have a rainshell on top of all of it. (Yes, 100% not fun when you get sweaty!)
    – Lights lights lights
    – Fenders and rain pants are really not an option in downpour weather like today- (Get them soon before they all sell out in your size– it happens every year!)
    – Although I (foolishly) did not wear them today, waterproof socks vs shoe covers can keep feet and shoes dry

    Hope that helps– Luckily, we usually don’t get slammed like today more that 2-3x/year.. We’ll see!

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    Alex Reed December 7, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Best commute of the season so far! Wore rain pants and a rain jacket and a poncho on top – got to work damp in only two spots, otherwise dry. Except for the feet! I forgot to put on my rubber boots and my leather boots that keep me dry in normal Portland rain were soaked.

    But I cranked the e-assist, sang songs like I didn’t care who heard (very few people were out of their cars to hear anyway), enjoyed the abandoned greenways, and overall loved it.

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    realworld December 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I had a great commute in, rode the Spring Water 90% of my commute, wore WP hiking pants with WP gators over my Giro Alpineduro boots and Showers Pass jacket and Giro winter helmet.
    I was dry and warm and enjoyed splashing through the puddles and watching all the drivers gritting their teeth as they white knuckled the steering wheel.

    Very satisfying, and even more reason for PBOT and City leaders to push hard for complete streets and protected bike ways.

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    pdx2wheeler December 7, 2015 at 11:02 am

    One of the best rides of the year! Had to cross several lakes and rivers, rode the waves of several passing cars, couldn’t see for most the ride. Made me feel like a kid again. I feel so lucky that this is how I get to go to work.

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      pdx2wheeler December 7, 2015 at 11:18 am

      Tip: If you’ve got good rain gear then ride slower than normal during heavy rain to avoid sweating, particularly if you’re facing a headwind. If you’re soaked on the outside then perspiration can’t escape and evaporate, so you get completely soaked from the inside, not the outside…

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty December 7, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Bathing suit for me! It was a blast!

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    hotrodder December 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

    My Shimano MW81 Gore Tex Water Resistant cycling boots were not up to the task, but I wear Icebreaker wool socks, so my feet stayed warm.

    I guess if it’s like this tomorrow I can use my boot covers.

    My tights were soaked, but I cannot stand the clammy feel of rain pants.

    There was a huge puddle on Front Avenue under the Fremont bridge at 5 this morning. I suppose it’s more like a lake, now, at 11am. I recommend taking the turn lane rather than trying to stay to the left..

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    John Lascurettes December 7, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I don’t know why I bother booties on days like today. All the rain comes up from under the cleat when going through puddles so my feet get soaked anyway.

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      Dan December 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Yeah, I don’t have any rain boots right now, so I just wore my cycling shoes without socks. It was warm enough today that soaked shoes weren’t much of an annoyance.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu December 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Yeah, it is weird that bike shoe makers don’t better seal the interior of the shoe off from the cleat holes. A lot of cold comes in there too.

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    soren December 7, 2015 at 11:38 am

    What a terrible day to drive!

    Light gloves, light tights, and a thin shell were comfortable in the warmish rain. I also admit to feeling more than a little schadenfreude as a I sliced through both standing water and motorvehicles on my way to work. In fact, I was so pumped that I sprinted up terwilliger.

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  • joeb
    joeb December 7, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Fun ride. The first thing I noticed was more bikes (8) crossing Lombard at Vancouver than I ever see, 4 in each direction. And a steady stream of bikes funneling onto Vancouver all the way in. A LOT of people decided driving in this was the less desirable choice.

    I was gloating about how dry I was until I submerged my feet at the approach to Broadway :-). I’m glad I have an excuse to get out in this.

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    Alan 1.0 December 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Is there anyone who rowed to work?

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      Aixe Djelal December 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      For a brief moment I stared at my kayak while getting on my bike to come to work this morning, and wondered if I would be able to paddle down the street later this week. I probably should have brought my PFD for the ride home tonight!

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    seRider December 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Fortunately I have a mountain bike to switch to when it gets like this. It does great crossing road ponds and semi-composted ‘leaf snot’. I actually look forward to my morning and evening foul weather ‘adventure’. Biggest hazard is frantic cut-thru motorists escaping backed up arterial streets.

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    Chris Cooper December 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I live in Montavilla, and our neighbors are working together to clear the drains!

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      PaulaF December 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      I was one of those out there in Montavilla clearing drains. Good times.

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    peter haas December 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I enjoy riding in the rain. My old Burley rain jacket has served me well. However, today I was soaked within minutes. I put a new rain jacket on the top of my wish list for Santa. There are increased risks that I try to manage…visibility is poor with my wet, fogged up glasses and my braking power is limited with rim brakes. I also notice car drivers acting more erratic than usual in these conditions. But for me, it’s a short 5 mile commute into downtown and I like riding through the puddles and past all the cars stuck in grid lock.

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    RushHourAlleycat December 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve recently started walking to work. I wore a rain she’ll and rain pants over my underwear. Put my suit and dress shoes in a plastic bag in my backpack, slipped on my wellies and got dressed in the office.

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    maxD December 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Showers Pass jacket- soaked
    Showers Pass rain pants – soaked
    Endura booties-soaked

    Roller brake/drum brake + generator hub-worked like a charm!

    Despite of this, it was an exhilarating ride. The traffic was so backed up that I was easily twice as fast of them even on my super heavy rain bike and dialing back my speed becasue of the erratic driving.

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    Trikeguy December 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Riding a recumbent in this stuff will get you very wet – heck, there are puddles as deep as my butt sometimes 🙂

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    mark December 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Watch out..those puddles could be filled with poo.

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      Dan December 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      A mud puddle by any other name would smell as sweet 😉

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    Mark December 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Took it slow. More standing water than I’ve ever seen on Portland streets. Showers Pass head to toe, but even that was not quite enough. Had to ride on sidewalks coming down N Vancouver to the NE Broadway intersection. Otherwise, I would have been swimming rather than riding.

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    Tom Hardy December 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Love my pink balacalava! Ultra fleece pants and jersey. It was a bit warm but it dripped dry walking in the hallway. Socks did get wet and cold though. A quick change and done.

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    SE December 7, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I’m a 365 rider, but didn’t have to go out today, so stayed home.

    Best tip I can provide ….get 2 rubber bands and 2 plastic shopping bags. Stick socked foot into bag , secure bag top around ankle with band. NOW put on shoe. (do 2x)
    Feet stay dry & warm even if shoes are soaked. 🙂

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    Heidi December 7, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I have a 16-mile commute from Burnside to OR City in the dark, early morning. I stayed dry for about half the ride and then just got wetter and wetter. Also had to remove my glasses on account of them fogging up with the water droplets. Can’t see much without them, but it was better than with them except for the sharp drops in my eyes during the faster part of the commute. Took it a little slower. All in all, it wasn’t cold, and I actually enjoyed myself!

    Singer Hill in OR City has no bike lane or sharrows…so I just dropped into low gear and rode up in the 6′ wide creek running down the right side of the road.

    After the first time I got soaked on my way to work this season, I got a shoe dryer, and my shoes have been on it all day with my soaked gloves, which I wrung out, warming on top. Despite the gear and even the high tech garbage bag I had wrapped my courier bag in, everything was wet by the time I got to work. Thank goodness for packing my work clothes in ziplock bags.

    Carpool home.
    Intend to ride again in the morning. As long as it’s not cold, I think I’m ok riding. Might work some different eyewear for tomorrow to see if that improves anything.

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    Bryan December 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Woodstock neighborhood to Gresham. Pouring down rain in the morning and one of the wettest days ever in 10 years. Ride home on the spring water road through Johnson creek by linniman station it was about 18″ deep and moving. Luckily I was going with the current. Another 6″ deep and things would have gotten bit spotty. Good fun, so glad to be on the bike on a day like today.

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    Bert December 7, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Riding through toilet water.

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    rachel b December 7, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    You get wet, then you dry off. I hope it continues to rain like this for the next 100 years. The previous oppressively hot, dry and sunny very un-Portland like three+ years dessicated me completely and I feel like I can never get enough rain again.
    Signed,
    Sincerely,
    The pasty redhead, happy as a puddle duck

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      Lester Burnham December 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Lol. The city has a hard time dealing with just a couple days of it.

      Anyway, glad I drove. Wasn’t worth gearing up and still getting soaked.

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    Scott B December 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Totally aced the wet ride this morning – Brand New Toasty Warm Reflective Safety Jacket with Liner, Carhaart Rain Pant’s and Shower’s Pass Booties kept me reasonably dry on the way to NW Portland for a Doctors Appointment then back downtown to work.

    Then force of habit made me dress in the same outfit and experienced a different type of dampness – I sweated up a storm until I removed the rain pants and booties for some bike knickers.

    Not as bad as Halloween but this winters living up to the prediction of being a drencher!

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    rick December 8, 2015 at 7:09 am

    bumpy on SW Canyon Road today

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    Tom December 8, 2015 at 9:07 am

    The December 8 “Bike the Lights” night at Portland International Raceway Winter Wonderland has been canceled due to the weather.

    https://www.facebook.com/winterwonderlandportland/

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    Pete December 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Last two mornings I was drenched within six blocks of leaving home but then I realized, I can’t get any wetter and carry on as normal. My rain jacket is old and I can’t afford a new one but a change of clothes at work and no worries. The key is having a good water proof back pack. Far less fellow cyclists out there though…

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    Eric Leifsdad December 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    The rain cape from CAToregon.org has done well. Though it can catch a lot of wind and blocks my handlebar mirror, it keeps the top of my legs dry without overheating. It’s also a bit bulky and I have wished for packable rain chaps more than once now because I almost always have a light raincoat on as a windbreaker. I’ve been using neoprene booties over my sneakers, which is good until you have to put a foot down in a puddle, and the shins of my jeans get rather wet from the front wheel. I suspect tall rubber boots might be worthwhile, but maybe a larger front mudflap.

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    SE December 8, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    SE
    I’m a 365 rider, but didn’t have to go out today, so stayed home.Best tip I can provide ….get 2 rubber bands and 2 plastic shopping bags. Stick socked foot into bag , secure bag top around ankle with band. NOW put on shoe. (do 2x) Feet stay dry & warm even if shoes are soaked. 🙂Recommended 2

    I got out in it today. Almost everything was wet. GT jacket, rain pants , shoes. even inside rubber gloves, BUT my store bag bagged feet were the only thing dry 🙂

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    daisy December 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Three cheers for Ortleib! My 5 year old bike bags/panniers are still bomber.

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    Mike Sanders December 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Glad I’m staying in today. Biggest problems seem to be out Gresham way. A sewer line next to the MAX line gave way, creating a sinkhole next to the tracks last night. MAX closed east of Ruby Jct. (197/Burnside); buses filling in. Nearby, on Kane Rd., another sinkhole, reported by Oregonian Facebook page to be at least 40 feet deep, developed at the entrance to Mt. Hood Community College, closing all lanes. The college closed at midafternoon yesterday because of high water on Kane and remained closed today. Needless to say, Kane is now closed between Stark & Division. Three bus lines that normally serve MHCC via Kane are now being rerouted. Therefore, no buses on Kane out there. Johnson Creek close to flood stage, so watch out along Soringwater Trail and Foster Road.

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    SE December 8, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Mike Sanders
    so watch out along Soringwater Trail and Foster Road.Recommended 0

    I rode SW from Beggars Tick to the river today. Very few problems on the trail. A little standing water at the Johnson-Tideman rest area.
    Foster was closed from 110th to 112th at 11am and the floodplain parking area was locked.

    By 4 PM foster was open again.

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    CD December 8, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    My rain pants need a serious upgrade and I have to keep telling myself it’s worth it to bike uphill against the wind when it’s raining sideways. I’ve nearly bitten it at least three times in the past week thanks to the stupid leaf muck though.

    Seriously, I’ll listen to anyone’s recommendations for rain pants that keep the pants I’m wearing underneath dry.

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      Gerald Fittipaldi December 11, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      It’s possible that your rain pants are shot and it’s time to get a new pair, but you might be able to make them waterproof again using Scotchguard. I have a pair of J&G rain pants. They weren’t super waterproof when I first got them, but after using Scotchguard they became fully waterproof. Actually I think I used Camp Dry; same stuff. I love em. I can take them off without having to take my hiking boots off. They also have pocket zippers.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu December 8, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I’m nice and dry in sunny California, getting texts from my wife in Portland about all our friends with flooded basements and roof leaks and our neighbors out clearing storm drains. Why do I miss the fun weather?! I hope there is some rain left for me on Thursday.

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