What prevents a wet and shiny nose?
Is it something on your bike like fenders?
Or is it waterproof cycling clothes?
We don’t need special gear to bike for transportation, but for a lot of us a couple key things make things a lot more pleasant, especially if we want to bike in all conditions.
I type this with my damp basket-dog burritoed in a towel on my lap as I listen to the soft hum of my glove-and-boot dryer readying my 11-year old’s gear for tomorrow’s ride to school, and I’m trying to decide on my number one favorite piece of rain gear.
Today I’m going to vote for my rain skirt. Unfortunately, it’s not commercially available — my friend, Alyssa, made it for me. Before I had the rain skirt and before years of wear had compromised their waterproofness, my rain chaps were my favorite thing. One can get Rain Legs rain chaps here in Portland at Clever Cycles, available in silver and black.
I also checked with a couple kids and friends on Monday, while pedaling alongside them in drizzle to keep things real…
Rijder, my nine-year-old son, laughed and shouted, “Nothing!” Getting wet is a perfectly feasible way to deal with rain. We tend to forget we’re waterproof and skin’s quick to dry so Rijder’s minimal coverage (it was 54 degrees when we left for school this morning) worked well for a one-mile commute in drizzle. Many people who opt to just get wet also opt to change into dry clothing upon arrival, though.
Brandt, my 11-year-old son, says his favorite rain gear is “fenders” so I don’t chide him for riding through each and every puddle. Fenders are good for both protecting your bike’s drivetrain from muddy, gritty water and for keeping your clothing clean.
Pixie, my nine-year-old chiweenie, indicated her blanket keeps her cozy in the rain. As a non-pedaling passenger, she’s prone to getting a little colder than the rest of us so she needs to have an extra layer when it’s cold. Her blanket isn’t waterproof, but it did a fine job of blocking the drizzle for 15 miles to the pumpkin farm on Sunday.
Kathleen Youell said her rain cape is her pick. It covers arms and legs and doesn’t get as hot as rain jacket plus rain pants.
So what’s your favorite piece of rain gear and why? If you bike with kids, ask them (or decide what you think they should say and share that). Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading.
Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.
Browse past Family Biking posts here.
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Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She’s the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books).
In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle’s Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.