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It’s been very wet: You doing OK?

Posted by on January 30th, 2020 at 11:11 am

This morning.
(Photo of Waterfront Park by Doug Hecker)

This morning’s transcendent sunrise felt like a hard-earned reward from Mother Nature after days of soggy cycling.

Persist.

It’s not your imagination — this month has been very wet. According to Willamette Week, we will probably have about six inches of total rain for January. That makes it the wettest month for the past two years and one of the wettest Januaries ever.

Rain is all fun and games in October when we’re racing cyclocross and praying for mud. But by now it just starts to get annoying and I often feel like I just want it to stop!

While it can be tough to keep riding when your gear never really dries out and conditions are even more hazardous than usual (bike lane sweeper? Heck, we need bike lane water vacuum!), I know that many of you persist. I hope this morning’s sunrise was an inspiration. If nothing else, hopefully you and our streets can dry out a bit before the next soggy cycle comes in.

How are doing out there? Still riding? Given up for now? We’d love to hear about it.

(P.S. Share tips to stay warm and dry if you have them. If you need help, see tons of great tips in the “Related Posts” below.)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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60 Comments
  • Avatar
    Jason Skelton January 30, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I have enjoyed the rain but I keep my commutes short, 30 minutes or less. Road rides above 1 hour in this rain are very unpleasant for me. And wool is the best fabric to insulate.

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  • Becky Jo (Columnist)
    Becky Jo (Columnist) January 30, 2020 at 11:40 am

    My daughter and I stopped at a red light this morning, and enjoyed the pink sky. It was a lovely bonus.

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    maxD January 30, 2020 at 11:49 am

    I constantly remind myself that it is never as bad to ride in the rain as it looks from inside, and I nearly always agree with myself. I also like to check my weather app (wunderground) which has a pie chart for each day of how much daylight each day will get- I love watching it grow a tiny bit each day! I also just nik-waxed my rain gear and colleague’s rain gear- very good for morale.

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      curly January 30, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      +1 Treat your rain gear right and you’ll always enjoy the ride!

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    Champs January 30, 2020 at 11:53 am

    I’m lucky enough to have the option of getting out when it’s (mostly) dry. It’s fine for work and personal errands, but I’m looking forward to longer blocks for purely recreational rides to see flowers in the valleys, snow in the hills, and views of distant mountains.

    I’m not sure why mantras like “we need the rain” and “this is not normal” have to be part of the winter cycle. We’ve gotten our seasonal rain and snowpack. There is no need to conflate weather with climate like the deniers.

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    Mick O January 30, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I’ve made the decision to not let the rain stop me as much this season. I’ve been ok for the most part, now that I’ve come to an enlightened realization that the absolute key feature for any rain gear for commuting is *not* how dry it keeps me, but how fast the gear itself will dry out. My own body is gonna get drenched in the rain either way be it from internal or external, but as long as what i am wearing for the morning commute is mostly dry when it’s time to head home in the evening, then I’m happy.

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      Jason January 31, 2020 at 8:42 am

      If you are getting excessively wet under your rain gear, then maybe you should look for more breathable gear?

      Breathablity is the value that says how much moisture will escape the garment, don’t by a rain gear that doesn’t provide this value. Even if it’s “the best product in town”. I have a jacket that is rated 28,000g/msq/24hr which is very high on the scale. I have no issues with moistness. I strongly encourage you to seek out this information. Here is an example source: http://neverboredinc.com/waterproof-and-breathable-ratings-on-outerwear/ .

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      D2 January 31, 2020 at 11:08 am

      I have made it a habit to hang my wet gear on my bike during the day. Locked indoors but not at my desk. If it goes in a locker there is no way it will be remotely dry for the return trip. I even have to do the same in the summer sometimes when it is really hot.

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    Valerie January 30, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I try to always have dry socks to change into at work. If it’s going to be truly intense, I’ll leave ballet flats at work to be sure to have dry shoes. That doesn’t happen often (I think the last time I did it was for snow, honestly, when I was too spooked to bike and was using the bus and walking)

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    Dirk McGee January 30, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Still beats driving!

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      Jason January 30, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      In America, driving beats you!

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    Gary B January 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Wow! Seeing that I’m sorry I was already in the office at sunrise. Any chance, Doug Hecker, that the full resolution picture can be made available? I’d hang that on my wall!

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  • Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
    Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike) January 30, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    The bike valet has still been busy.

    In 2017 we parked an average of 181 in January
    In 2018 – 243
    In 2019 – 272
    In 2020 – 255

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    Josh G January 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Crossing my fingers that we get through season without PBOT putting down sand of gravel (given how long it takes to remove) …chance of snow in 10 days

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    Jason January 30, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Grew up riding in the rain, in Oregon. Without the luxury of modern fabrics. Back then, every rain jacket made you as wet on the inside with sweat as you were on the outside with rain. My thanks to the makers of these modern wonders. But ShowersPass, can you please bring the Rogue Pants and Hoodie back? Pretty please?

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    Ryan January 30, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Just started back up again a couple days ago after two weeks off due to sickness and back troubles. Back is still tight but it feels better at work if I ride in. Been trying to ride as much as possible this winter, especially when it’s wet, I think to just prove to myself that it’s not that big of a deal. Also finally have a good bike setup for wet commuting this year as well, so that’s helped immensely. Took me a few years to build up decent rain gear that keeps me reasonably dry while also being reasonably comfortable over an hour commute, but I feel like I’m finally there. And I haven’t invested in any of those crazy-expensive bits either. While none of my kit keeps me fully dry (I sweat too much for that anyway), I’ve found it’s most important for me that it keeps me warm even if I’m wet. I can deal with wet as long as I don’t get chilled because of it. And it dries out well between the ride in and the ride home 🙂

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      Jason January 31, 2020 at 8:46 am

      I like the combo of a good breathable rain jacket and a wool jersey underneath. If it dips below 40, I might use a long sleeve wool base layer as well.

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    Chainstays January 30, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    It hasn’t been too bad, just tough when the gear hardly has time to dry overnight!

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    Jon January 30, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Unless there is ice I ride 6-7 days a week. I’ve gotten more miles commuting and riding for pleasure this year than the last two because the lack of snow/ice so far this year. I’ve never regretted doing a ride in the wet. I sometimes been reluctant to start a ride when it is pouring rain but once I start it is always good to be outside exercising. With proper clothing, disc brakes, and fenders I have no issues.

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    Jay T. January 30, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    The last two or three days have been so warm that I’ve been wearing shorts. When there’s less fabric to get wet, there’s less fabric to be heavy and less water next to my skin to absorb my heat.

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    Maria January 30, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    You asked for tips: fenders & a raincoat of course! I also pack a spare pair of gloves and socks for the ride home.
    The weather hasn’t bummed me out much, but I’m having several close calls with drivers on each commute. I imagine they don’t see me, so my strategy has been to pretend I’m invisible and be prepared to yell “WAIT”, which has proven effective.
    Stay dry everyone!

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    Huey Lewis January 30, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Not sure where WW is getting that measurement from. Depending on where you are in the city you have likely received well over 6″ of rain. At my house with our fancy pants weather gauge system we are up over 10″ this month. See the Portland Hydra Network for a gage near you to see a more accurate rain total.

    Also, rain and gloom forever. It is the best. Let it never stop.

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      drs January 31, 2020 at 10:14 am

      I’m pretty sure they are reporting the rain gauge data from the PDX airport, which is the weather station of record for the Portland metro area. I’ve frequently noticed that rainfall totals are progressively higher if you look at weather stations that are situated closer to the hills, and even higher due to orographic effects at higher elevations. But PDX is the standard.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 30, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    I think, for the most part, this has been a dry and mild winter, which I am both enjoying and finding distressing.

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      Huey Lewis January 30, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      It does seem pretty mild. It is a little distressing. For the water year I don’t think we are too far off the mark though. But it’s the snow we need to be concerned with. Adequate snow pack to keep feeding us through the summer. These mild days are pleasant so long as the freezing level stays low over in the mountains. I think you’ve been here a while and get all this. I had a conversation with a newcomer who was hoping winter was mostly over and it was clear they didn’t understand or care about the importance of a cold and wet winter since once we get dry in the late spring, that’s pretty much it until fall (if the rain bothers you there are some other great places you can move to!) It could just be I pay more attention now but it seems like come summer time we start tapping the Columbia South Shore Well Field more often and sooner than in years past.

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    Lowell January 30, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    This has been my first year of winter riding. Overall, it has been much more pleasant than I thought it would be. My office has been under renovation for the past year and a half, and the bike room, showers, and locker room were closed for that ENTIRE time. Thankfully, we finally got our sparkly new lockers and showers just last week, so having a shower waiting for me and a locker to hang my wet clothes in has made this soggy January not so bad.

    I am pet-sitting for a friend with an apartment in the west hills, with an excellent view East towards Mt Hood. I happened to wake up right at sunrise, and literally gasped at the beauty of it. It was without a doubt the most tremendous sunrise I’ve ever seen. I’ve been feeling so great all day because of it.

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    Doug B. January 30, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    At 316 miles so far this month, I’m on track for January being my highest mileage month since I started cycling (after a 15 year hiatus) in 2018! Had a few close calls with drivers as well, and using my voice has proven effective.

    Since I commute in the dark both ways, I was getting pretty down in the dumps, but boosting D3, learning how to work on my bike, and talking with supportive friends helped a ton.

    I don’t wear a rain jacket above 45 unless it’s dumping rain, shower at work, wear shorts most mornings, etc. I use full fenders, wax my chain, and hose the bike off as needed. Anyone know how to keep all the grit off in Washington County? My sparkly clean bike is filthy after a day!

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      Jason January 30, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      Those are impressive commute miles, keep it up! I have a horn. It’s super obnoxious. I love it. My voice thanks me.

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        Doug B. January 30, 2020 at 8:30 pm

        Thanks Jason! Is it like a train horn, or a squeezy bulb?

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          Jason January 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm

          It’s “a real motorcycle horn”. I bought it off the Juiced bikes website, but it took two months to fulfil the order. If you can find it elsewhere, do. I think Scamazon has a similar one, but I don’t know what’s worse. Amazon or waiting for two months.

          https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/juiced-bikes-horn

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      BradWagon January 31, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Same here Doug, just rolled over 50 hours this morning for biggest month ever. Commuting ads up!

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        Doug B. January 31, 2020 at 6:25 pm

        Brad, congratulations! I’m at about 32 hours for the month. I’ll be moving from Aloha to below OHSU tomorrow, so I’ve been contemplating commuting all the way to Hillsboro over Forest Park. That would get me closer to 50 hours, haha.

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    John Lascurettes January 30, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    I’m going to admit it. I have avoided riding a lot this winter — and I’m normally a “any kind of weather” kind of guy. I wasn’t able to ride for a chunk of the late summer because of surgery; and then when I was ready to ride again, we had rain, it was cold, hard and gross (generally). I found that I opted to work from home more often (and I prefer being in the office than working in isolation), or I’d take the bus. I’m looking forward to some either warmer or drier weather to ride more frequently.

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      Middle of the Road Guy January 31, 2020 at 11:03 am

      Hope you recovered well.

      Went through 2 major ones a few years ago and not riding was the worst part of them.

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        John Lascurettes January 31, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        Thanks, yeah, I did a lot of walking to the bus about 1/2 mile away to avoid any transfers. That’s where I got my exercise. I wasn’t allowed to wear a helmet for a couple of months because of major surgical scar on my head had to fully heal.

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    Tony Thayer January 30, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    After getting 100% soaked through and having to wring the water out of the inside of my waterproof gloves last friday I’ve been taking the bus a lot more. Putting on wet rain gear the next day is not pleasant.

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    David LaPorte January 30, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Having a pair of spare shoes at work, and wearing RainLegs on the ride have kept me happy and dry-ish!

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    Doug Hecker January 30, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Gary B
    Wow! Seeing that I’m sorry I was already in the office at sunrise. Any chance, Doug Hecker, that the full resolution picture can be made available? I’d hang that on my wall!Recommended 5

    Feel free to send me an email at the above address. I did take this with my iPhone 11 so I imagine that it would get blurry if you make it too large. The offer is open to anyone if you’d like it. Cheers

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    Resopmok January 30, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    I hope this doesn’t seem pedantic, but after reading several comments about soaked gear, I’d like to offer that hanging it front of a fan when possible will do wonders to help it dry faster. You might also consider investing in a boot dryer for soggy shoes, they worked wonders on my Xtratuffs when I worked on an Alaskan trawler.

    I’d also like to use this space to promote an under-used garment: chaps. Though may inspire mental images of old Western gunslingers, they are quite practical in all but the heaviest downpours. When I wore rain pants, especially on longer rides, my legs sweated death. With chaps, my legs can breathe much easier, and they still shed water which lands on me from the top. Full fenders keep tire spray from soaking the bottoms of my legs and they stay dry too. Chaps also pack much smaller and are easier to put on and take off than rain pants. The biggest problem is that only one company commercially produces a decent product: Rain Legs. I think they could be the next in cycling fashion some competitors cropped up.

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      idlebytes January 30, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      I second this fan plan. I use a little 4″ fan to dry my gear under my desk and they’re good to go after work but if I hang them down in the locker room they’re still soaked by the end of the day. Even the smallest bit of circulation and shuffling things about goes a long way.

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      John Lascurettes January 31, 2020 at 1:16 am

      I’ve got a pair of gloves that don’t get soaked — but before that, if my gloves got soaked on the way to work, I’d put them on my computer monitor’s vents. It worked great for drying them out for the ride home (and added little warmer). If they were wet from the ride home, I’d leave them on our home’s heater vents (which are in the floor). They were always dry in the morning.

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      Christopher of Portland January 31, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for the fan reminder. I was wondering how I would get my waterproof (???) yet soaked clothing dry quickly enough. The Vornado air circulator on medium had my clothes dry by 5 this morning, just in time to not need them.

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    Steve January 30, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    It’s not the rain or the temperature that’s gotten me down. It’s the constant bike maintenance. Cleaning my bike multiple times a week gets old. “I wish there was some way that I could be outside riding my bike in the rain and not get dirty. Now wouldn’t that be great?”

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      John Lascurettes January 31, 2020 at 1:21 am

      I got a belt-drive bike with internal-gear hub many years ago for commuting. It’s fantastic for winter riding (because it doesn’t need constant cleaning and lubing every rain). It was my year-round bike until I got a fun single-speed that is not winter-friendly (but I am on it any time I’m confident that it’s going to be a dry day).

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        maxD January 31, 2020 at 8:59 am

        second the belt-drive, internal hub, disc brake winter bike. I added a generator hub and a flap for the front fender to keep my feet/drivetrain cleaner/drier. This was an absolute game changer for winter commutes. Basically zero maintenance, always well lit. I got the Scott from River City outlet for $750 I think 4 years ago. I hose it down once or twice a year. I have changed the brake pads a couple of times and worn through a set of tires and that is the grand total of maintenance! No lube, no batteries, no gears to clean. I realize I am lucky to be able to afford this, but for under $1K, I have an extremely reliable bike and we are still a one-car family (FWIW).

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    Michael January 30, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Taking the bus, itching to ride when the daylight lasts just a bit longer.

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    SD January 30, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Even though it’s rained nearly every day, the number of times that it has actually rained during my commute has been far less. This unpredictability has made me a rain cape convert. I don’t have to wear it unless I really need it at that moment, and if it starts raining mid ride, I just pull it out of my pack and I’m good to go.

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      John Lascurettes January 31, 2020 at 1:24 am

      I tried a rain cape and I just couldn’t deal with what felt like a more limited range of movement while in cockpit position. I really wanted to like it too because I bought it at an early Bikecraft from a local vendor.

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    RudiV January 30, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    I finally gave up on traditional goretex style jackets this year in favor of a columbia outdry I got for xmas, now I sneer at the weather! Not a “cycling specific” jacket, but the hood fits over my helmet better than any other I’ve ever had, and the fabric never gets wet, thus it’s never soaked and always ready to go.

    There’s no “D” in the DWR of traditional goretex. After a year or two your X-hundred dollar jacket starts wetting out and you have to spring for a new one. It’s a scam, like “non-stick” cookware- take an object that will last 100 years and put a “coating” on it that lasts for 3, then sell the same ripoff over and over while the old one goes in the trash. Consumer capitalism!

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      Doug B. January 30, 2020 at 11:15 pm

      I use OutDry as well! I love it 🙂 I have the OutDry stretch pants that I pair with mountaineering gaiters on real downpours. Only complaint about the pants is that they snag easy. Guess that’s what patch kits are for!

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      Jason January 31, 2020 at 8:50 am

      To offer a contrasting experience, I’ve had an Enduro jacket since 2009. It’s going to fall apart before it loses waterproofness.

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    Mike Quigley January 31, 2020 at 7:11 am

    All these comments from people who enjoy riding in the rain? I’ve never seen a facial expression on a rain rider who looks like he’s enjoying it. I never ride in the rain. Rather, walk or take transit.

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      maxD January 31, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Mike,
      you should have seen my last night! I got stuck a t work until 7:30. I took the Esplanade because it was very dark and rainy, and I had it to myself. I seized the opportunity to practice my Jello Biafra impersonation and tried to remember the lyrics to a few DK songs- I was have fun in an absolute soaker and it showed!

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      Christopher of Portland January 31, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Even while enjoying it, it’s hard to do anything other than grimace when your face is being pelted with water drops.

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      Boz February 1, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      You guys are funny… I love it, especially when it’s dumping. I wear clear glasses or ski goggles if it’s really coming down. Are you into snowboarding or skiing? Conditions on the mountain (Mt. Hood especially) can be real wet… but it’s still fun, particularly if you’re comfortable with the right gear. I don’t see how biking is so different. One’s enjoyment (or lackthereof) is seems a function of having the right gear and mindset…

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    n8m January 31, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Doing great, I’m in Thailand.

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    Glenn II January 31, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    The rain’s fine, it’s the splashed-up road-filth that gets to be a drag. Shoes, shins, panniers, and most of the bike, all get covered with wet sand. And that’s with fenders. Would love access to a hose out front – either that or a mud room (which would be a sand room).

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    Boz February 1, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I may be in the minority, but I actually prefer riding in the rain over a hot sunny day. I have rain gear that keeps me dry, there are fewer bikers on the paths, and the scene is usually beautiful (low clouds, glistening foliage, puddles to splash through).

    I pretty much don my snowboard gear (sorel boots, ski googles, mittens, etc.) It’s all waterproof (as I grew up riding in notoriously wet snow on Mt. Hood). I take it slow so I don’t get hot… this also makes it enjoyable (smell the roses).

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    Suze February 2, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    I much prefer riding in the rain/winter riding in general. Less other bikers, the temperature is perfect for me riding & I get some much needed outside time. The only downside is the low light & feeling like I’m less visible to cars no matter how lit up I am with lights, spokelights and bright jacket.

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      Jason February 2, 2020 at 7:50 pm

      Suze
      Less other bikers

      I used to think this too, until I realized that it just means more cars. Other cyclists can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but cars are definitely worse for everyone. I feel a sense of community when I see fellow commuters. Plus, there’s always the chance for some friendly conversation on the way.

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