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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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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

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    John Lascurettes December 14, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    It’s funny, I wussed out on riding on Tuesday too and took a bus because the forecast said it would both be raining and 20 MPH gusts of wind for the evening commute. Neither of those things turned out true for my commute home. I should have ridden. Wind is top of my list of least favorite conditions. I don’t mind cold, rain, heat. But wind can go do a certain something to itself.

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    mh December 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    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!

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 14, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      what’s an “Amsterdam raincoat”? Is that your jargon for a poncho, aka rain cape?

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        Mike Quigley December 14, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        They’re an expensive and hip rain coat that originated in Amsterdam. Nordstroms carries ’em.

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        mh December 14, 2018 at 10:23 pm

        Agu Seq. ( Convertible into a poncho, but that clever conversion turned out to not work so well for my not-quite-as-upright bikes, because I couldn’t signal my turns. I’ll send some pictures tomorrow if Doug cooperates. I am sort of militantly pleased that SCREAMING YELLOW is not one of the available colors, and there is nothing retro reflective about it. I already have a mini-bungee-plus-binder-clip modification that accommodates the top bar that the coat was not really designed for.

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        Dirty Glennchez December 15, 2018 at 10:57 am

        Sounds like one of those apocryphal phrases that supposedly represents some sort of bizarre sex act. The Amsterdam Raincoat.

        In all seriousness though, if you have plenty of fender coverage, like most bikes do in the NL, a coat like this (all one piece, donned from the top down) starts to look like a better option than a jacket and full rain pants (two pieces, i.e. two steps, one of which is donned from the bottom up and usually requires you to contort awkwardly or sit down).

        As for me, I solved the Tuesday weather issue by working late for a couple hours and leaving at 7 when it was totally dry and pleasant out! Full-length wool skivvies under shorts and a t-shirt, brah!

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    Nony December 14, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    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!

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      bendite December 14, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      *low powered moped.

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        BikeRound December 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm

        Exactly: an electric moped.

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      BikeRound December 15, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      And it means that you get absolutely no exercise out of your commute, and you will miss out on all of the many benefits of exercising regularly. Basically what you are saying is that since now you rely exclusively on motorized transportation, you can dress however you want when going to work. There was already a motorized device that could accomplish the same task: it is called an automobile. Yes, I know, your electric motorcycle uses up less space, which is certainly a big benefit, but your lifestyle is exactly the same as that of someone who drives to work every day.

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        B. Carfree December 15, 2018 at 6:01 pm

        “…but your lifestyle is exactly the same as that of someone who drives to work every day.”

        I’ll remember that the next time I’m passed on a steep hill by an oversize diesel pick-up. Foolish me, I was under the illusion that I would have benefited from that person using an e-bike to get around. Thanks for setting me straight.

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          BikeRound December 16, 2018 at 9:12 am

          I completely agree with you that from a societal perspective there would be great benefits to replacing car trips with ebike trips. But what I am saying is that from the perspective of any one individual, ebikes are just another form of motorized travel. Even you seem to agree with this when you said that you would benefit if the guy in the pick-up truck were riding an ebike. Assuming that the ex-pick-up truck driver would be using the motor of his ebike to get up that hill (and I would argue that that is a safe assumption in most cases), his lifestyle did not change. To put it another way, would you agree that replacing the pick-up truck with an electric car does not result in a lifestyle change?

          By the way, Matt S., my bike was bought used on craigslist, it is aluminum, has brakes and a triple crank up front. As anyone who has been to Amsterdam can attest, riding a normal bike does not imply any kind of exclusivity, high income, or the ability to produce extraordinary physical output.

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            Hello, Kitty December 16, 2018 at 10:59 am

            Why are you at all concerned with a person’s “lifestyle”?

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              BikeRound December 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm

              One, because one of the main benefits of riding a bike is the improvement in physical and mental health. That is a big reason why we should be proponents of active transportation options as a matter of public policy. Two, because it is much easier to persuade an average person to pursue a lifestyle that is a benefit to themselves than it is to pursue a lifestyle simply for the benefit of the environment.

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            soren December 16, 2018 at 11:35 am

            Speaking of the Netherlands…

            The sale of new bikes had been going down steadily since 2007 until the introduction and subsequent popularity of the e-bike. In 2017 294,000 electric bikes hit the road compared to 89,000 in 2007. More than half of turnover in the sector is generated by electric bike sales, BOVAG said.


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        Chris I December 15, 2018 at 8:32 pm

        You guys should really start a religion.

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          Matt S. December 15, 2018 at 9:59 pm

          Bikes with no brakes or gears. Carbon with six figure incomes. Exclusivity is our mantra. Must burn 2000 calories. No kids, no obligations.

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          soren December 16, 2018 at 11:41 am

          The evangelical church of experienced year-round bike commuters host rides every — and I mean EVERY — morning and evening .

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          X December 18, 2018 at 6:04 am

          Looks like at least two religions!

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      BikeRound December 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Your post sounds exactly like an imaginary ad for a Model T in the 1910s. Just think of the voice over: “Here is a mode of transportation that is not affected by wind, snow or rain. Relax in your cushy seat while the horseless carriage takes you to work, to your club or your store in perfect comfort. Whether it is freezing or a 100 degrees outside, the climate-controlled cabin provides perfect insulation from the elements.” Of course, I realize that a Model T didn’t have air conditioning yet, or even necessarily a completely sealed off cabin, but I think I have made my point. And what was the end result of going down this road? That Americans are less healthy than ever before. One third is merely overweight while another one third is outright obese. Although doctors in ancient Greece, about 2500 years ago, were already advising their patients to get some exercise, the latest research suggests that a lack of exercise is even more of a risk factor for a whole slew of medical conditions than we thought previously. Further, exercise is also critical for mental balance, stress relief, maintaining mental acuity into old age, and slowing the deterioration of memory as we age. Finally, many of us gain a sense of self-respect (again, something that is critical for mental health) and a sense of accomplishment from riding our non-motorized bicycle to and from work.

      I ride 11 miles to work one way here in New Jersey, summer and winter, fall and spring, hot and cold, whether it is rainy or snowy, or humid or dry. I climb three big hills, and then enjoy the descent on the way down. While others are sitting in traffic on New Jersey’s congested freeways (a misnomer, if there ever was one), I go through county open spaces, where I luxuriate in the quiet, occasionally catch a peek of some wild creature, and wonder whether the fox I just saw is the same fox as the one that I met last week. I marvel at the cycle of the moon and at the mystical shadows cast by the magnificence of the full moon. If I were to ride an electric motorcycle, the entire experience would be ruined. I would no longer benefit from the exercise I am getting (and make no mistake about it: the vast majority of people riding their electric motorcycles will get no exercise–guaranteed), my mind would not be refreshed after a day in the office, I would no longer feel proud getting to the top of the hill, rolling down the other side would be just mundane, and dressing just right for the conditions outside would no longer be an art form. Sure, those electric motorcycles may still have some benefits over automobiles in densely populated areas, but you will be missing out on most of the benefits of riding a bicycle.

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        Matt S. December 16, 2018 at 9:57 pm

        What if you could produce the same wattage on an ebike as a conventional bike. Your calorie expenditure would be the same, but you would arrive to your destination faster. All the same health benefits, just your 11 mile commute wouldn’t take 70 minutes/day.

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      soren December 16, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Nony, that was brilliant. Please post more.

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      Lester Burnham December 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

      While I do enjoy shredding on my Vanilla, I am quite envious of the additional freedom and ease an e-bike would provide me. I just wish those guys would have the courtesy to let me know they are passing me and not feel the need to pass so damn fast and close. Is that supposed to be teaching me a lesson or something?

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    hotrodder December 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    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.)

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    Doug Hecker December 14, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    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.

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    David Hampsten December 14, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    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.

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    Matt S. December 14, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    *doesn’t matter

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    Toby Keith December 15, 2018 at 4:46 pm

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

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    B. Carfree December 15, 2018 at 6:04 pm

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

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    mark is not smith December 16, 2018 at 11:01 am

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

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    Nony December 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    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:

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      mh December 16, 2018 at 10:20 pm

      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.)

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      BikeRound December 17, 2018 at 6:51 am

      It sounds like you replaced car trips with your ebike. In that case, I agree with you that there is no question that this has been a huge improvement.

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    Nony December 16, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    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.

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      Vicky December 17, 2018 at 8:40 am

      That’s amazing, Nony! Thanks for the links. Very helpful to understand what are facts and what is hate/ignorance. Obvious you proficient in this subject. Would like to know more about your experiences with bad weather.

      How did you accept and justify increased cost in an ebike? How did you finance the bikes? Where did you get your ebike? How did you settle on your brand? Sounds like you have more than one ebike?

      Ebike riders seem so happy. I want to be happy, too! …and please keep posting.

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      Pat Lowell December 17, 2018 at 9:11 am

      I commute on a “regular” bike every day, and I love my Lycra-clad weekend road rides, but I frequently wish I had an e-bike for commuting. Sometimes cold/dark/wet/post-work exhaustion/illness really wear on a person, no matter how great of shape you’re in. Sometimes you just need to get home as quickly as possible. It’s not always about exercise.

      As long as you’re in control of your bike and don’t pass me too close as you’re flying around me, it’s really none of my business what you’re riding.

      Thanks for the well-written testimonial, and sorry people have been crapping on your posts. Happy riding!

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