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How Portlanders handled a wet, dark, stormy bike commute

Posted by on December 14th, 2018 at 3:04 pm

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Tuesday afternoon was a doozy, weather-wise.

It’s not often I’ll opt out of a bike ride, but I hopped on light rail to make it to a meeting downtown. Why? The conditions were: dark, windy, wet, and cool (just cool enough to need a jacket, just warm enough to make you sweat in it). I can handle each of those variable by themselves, or even two or three of them at once. But when all those factors get together I look for non-biking options if I’m able.

I had a feeling a lot of you battled the deluge, so I posted a photo of a rider battling rain on our Instagram feed and asked our followers to share. I don’t take comfort in other people’s misery, but I have to admit I enjoyed reading all the comments that came in! In case you missed the post, here’s what people had to say:

swanny22Yeah, that was not particularly enjoyable.

icomeoutatnight I worked in it, however it was relatively not that bad. It could’ve rained more and it wasn’t even cold enough for gloves

stahnke_kong & a flat tire on top of it all!!

nwcanyoning 7 miles home from downtown was fun 🤠🚴🏼‍♂️

lechezzzRide home last night definitely had me regretting my decision to forgo rain pants!

carmusmeathole at least it was warm-ish!!

pedalpt Got crushed on my commute home last night 💧💦💧🚴🏻😣

fixedgearbikescum 💯 amazing day to be out. 😍🙌

kressanthemum I did feel more badass than usual. Cheers to us all! 💙

ruckuscomp At least it was warm! But that wind was almost as bad as traffic.

sukhostarpdx Soaked to bone.

m_eyes Shoes full of water when I got home!

m_eyes @m_eyes at least my daughter stayed dry in the burley trailer.

hunqaloosa Rain cape saved the day!

bevan97217 Ain’t no thang but a little Pdx weather!✊🏽

jbogli I got to say I honestly enjoyed it. Fun to swim every so often!

bedbug.ben It was fun! I just wish I didn’t have my laptop in my backpack hahaha I was so worried bout it

ssmathes There should be huge tax breaks for bike commuters.

brownb x🚴‍♂️or☠️

xfs_xth @showerspass booties saved the day!! 💦

woosighdough I’ll take the rain over the wind (which wasn’t too bad) any day.

lieselsvedlund Felt good to overcome a little sprinkle 😂

ybecauseimbryan Fun riding in that kind of rain. Could do without the cars though. 😁

wherethepavementends It wasn’t bad. Not even cold.

madamezola My legs were soaked (my upper half was swaddled lovingly in @showerspas gear and their magical backpack). At least it was warm and not windy.

j_merrithew Flying by all those people trapped in their traffic gave me all the warm fuzzies I needed!

vquick It wasn’t cold and not even very wet. Really nothing compared to the strong 40 MPH frigid wind gusts we faced last week. #doyouevenbike? 😉

neenajean 🙏🏼


joanbybike I was fine until a block from my house, when the blocked sewer drain meant riding through a huge puddle and my shoes got super wet.

joanbybike @joanbybike But my new @showerspass gloves kept my hands dry!

wendyzworld It was a deluge and the streets were flooded and I loved it! I have good gear 🙂

ashweeepoo Andy & Bax rain gear ftw!!

jayhisey Bravo to all that braved the weather

andreacapbuckle I’ll take the rain over the wind. I gave myself a good laugh Monday though when I was riding along feeling fast and strong. Then I realized there was no wind. Last week was rough compared to this week for me.

billbowlrider My shoes are STILL wet

marshallsteeves I definitely got caught and was DRENCHED! Still worth it though!

frootdawg Yes! Still better than driving!!!!

papi_cet Oh ya, refreshing

banerjek To condition myself for such a traumatic experience, I stand naked in the shower for 15 min each day with water blasting on me. When you’re used to getting drenched like that, you don’t even notice a couple drops of rain. Interesting pic. The helmet and light are designed for mountaineering rather than cycling.

The forecast for the coming week looks wet and wild once again. To everyone still riding, I commend you!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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Bar Mitts and an Amsterdam raincoat, no rain pants. Bar Mitts got a bit wet inside because I didn’t make sure they were really pointed opening-down when I stopped for a hair cut. Pants got wetter than I expected because of the wind.

Notice the NOAA warning for next week? Possible flooding!


IMHO, I believe this is where ebikes really shine. I now hop on my ebike regardless the weather. Rainy? no problem. Strong head wind? no problem. Dark? no problem. Snow and ice? no problem. 100 degrees out? no problem. Giant hill on my way to a meeting? no problem.

During the rain, I was still in my work clothes and was ‘completely’ dry each way. Yes, you read that correctly: I was completely dry wearing wool slacks, tie, and a dress shirt under my rain gear.

I still hold meetings on time. Arrived at work at my normal time. I don’t have to change clothes twice a day. My co-workers, however, arrived 20-min later because they had to dry off and change clothes. Gone are the days of getting back into your wet cycling clothes to commute home.

I use to hate and avoid commuting in the rain. Now, its fun and suppose is an adult way of playing in the rain like I did as a child on my bike.

Bonus? I have an extra 2 hours each week allowing me to spend with my kiddos and family.

Stay safe out there, everyone!


Hah! I since work due east of where I live, the ride home was great! The hand of god at my back for the evening portion of the commute, and I was already soaked to the skin when I got home and noticed my downspouts were clogged and my raingutters were overflowing, therefore getting up on the ladder to fish out the debris was no real extra effort. A nice hot shower and tasty food afterwards. Nothing better to make you feel alive, like you just had a mini adventure.

(My gloves were still wet friday morning, though.)

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker

I enjoy a cold, wet ride home. Neoprene socks without the shoe covers is one of the best ways I found to deal with cold feet. I’ll thank my weekend canyoneering trips for that find.

David Hampsten

We had Portland rain today, about an inch in 18 hours, high of 46 low of 39, wind from the south. Rather unusual here in North Carolina though. Usually when we get rain it’s 85+ and the drops will soak you no matter what you are wearing, but it passes through pretty quickly, so you just seek shelter at a church or under a big tree and wait. And, no, I don’t miss my 18 years of Portland winter rains – y’all are much braver than me.

Matt S.
Matt S.

*doesn’t matter

Toby Keith
Toby Keith

Fenders are my friend. Speaking of which does anyone run the aluminum PDW fenders? Was thinking of upgrading to them.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree

banerjek’s comment has had me chuckling for over a day now. Sheer brilliance.

mark is not smith
mark is not smith

what weather????
Tuesday night was perfectly tolerable.


Nony, that was brilliant. Please post more.Recommended 1

Several other benefits of ebikes based on my own personal experience:

– lights are integrated into bike. Don’t have to remove them each time I park. Lights are bright and don’t need additional batteries!
– GPS allows me to located bike if stolen. Great office trick with your co-workers being able to locate bike from my desk.
– I am able to carry 2 bike locks, because weight is no longer an issue. Further insuring bike wil less likely be stolen.
– Because weight isn’t an issue, I’m more likely to pass by grocery store for some chocolate or flowers for the wife.
– extra bag of groceries on the way home in addition to my work bag? no problem, honey!

– I now am able to take a safer route home even if it means more miles or more hills. (this is a big one). Thus, I have concluded, ebikes actually are safer.

– Much happier since commuting on ebike by a wide margin. Laughing at myself how much fun and stress free my commute is now.
– Family is much happier that I’m happier.
– I now look forward to my bike commute instead of dreading the ordeal ahead of me.
– its my quiet time, almost therapeutic.
– Arrive at work with a clear head instead of feeling exhausted.
– I can now choose to exert myself on the way home. Its a choice!
– Blood pressure went down, weight went down. My doctor recommended an ebike. Man, was she right and am wondering if she has saved my quality of life.

– ebikes get lots of attention! Everyday people approach me eating to talk about my ebike. I see light bulbs go off in their heads as they figure out how game-changing an ebike would mean for their lives. It’s like your a celebrity.
– I’ve noticed neighbors, co-workers suddenly show up on ebikes.

– no longer need a second car in the driveway and are discussing going down to one car!
– Car is now being used on the weekend. Weekday car use has gone down significantly.
– I’m not MORE inclined to purchase an EV car as I’m no longer afraid of limitations of electric motors.

– friends love my electric push I give them while on my commute! So fun! Friends are amazed how much electric motor is able to push two people effortlessly up inclines.

– Last years ice storm, most people commuting were on ebikes. I was still mobile even with ice on streets. That was a new discovery for me. No one on my block was mobile, except me.
– studded tires on ebikes are amazing.

For those wondering, I ride a ferrari red Trek Super Commuter.

Oh, BTW, I googled, “ebike does not contribute to fitness”. Search results were apparently quite the opposite.

Secondary yahoo search results: More articles and research supporting ebikes does indeed enhance fitness.

Googled: e bikes contribute to lowering traffic?…1462931.1471886..1472300…0.0..0.133.3151.32j4……0….1..gws-wiz…….0j0i71j0i67j0i131j0i131i67j0i10j0i22i30j0i22i10i30j0i13j0i13i30j33i22i29i30j33i160j33i299.NAo10QsKcIM

Why you will eventually ride an ebike:


Studded tires on human-powered bikes are also amazing, and I really don’t want the extra power and acceleration. I already hit the ground too often. (Literally blown over by a crosswind on the way home Friday.)Recommended 0

With ebikes in snow and ice, it’s not about acceleration, it’s about traction. My old Vanmoof had a front hub motor. What does that mean? **All-wheel-drive bicycle***

Front wheel is propelled by motor, rear wheel is propelled by your legs = incredible traction

Ever tried pedaling in snow? you get tired quickly, as weight of snow accumulating on tire gets heavy. But with a motor, wheel turns and slices down to solid surface = instant traction.

Electric motor has almost 100% torque instantly. No reving up, just pure torque the instant wheel turns. Wheel doesn’t care there is several inches of snow on the tire. Give wheel some “gas” and it flings snow off tires. Almost comical to watch it detach snow from treads.

Those familiar with AWD vehicles knows that you have a choice to brake into a corner OR give it gas for traction. Same with a front hub powered ebike. I had to train myself to give it some gas, which is the opposite of my intuition as an analog cyclist.

Takes an incredible amount of sensory skills: when to power down front hub, when to pedal hard rear wheel, when to let off throttle front or rear or at the same time.

When rear wheel catches traction same time as front wheel, it creates a sensation of propulsion unique to bicycles. opens up a whole new world of exploration once closed to most of us. So fun!

I still have my trusty Vanmoof ready for snow duty.

Now, think about how ebikes handle with water, dirt, mud, leaves, etc. then you start to understand why ebikes truly are safer than analog bikes.