Does this sound familiar?
After so many hot days, I was looking forward to the return of chilly wet Portland weather. With anticipation, I went to a thrift store to pick out a new-to-me rain jacket. I checked the kid’s gear to see that I had jackets, pants, and boots that fit them. I washed items still caked in last year’s mud with Nikwax tech wash to re-waterproof those outer layers. I even attended a fantastic Winter Gear Clinic with Ride Westside in Beaverton. I was ready.
And then it rained.
I kid you not, I looked out the window at the dripping, dreary wetness and said, “weeeelll, maybe we’ll just drive.” To make matters more ridiculous, the drive was to soccer practice, outside, in the rain, and I’m the coach. That’s right, I was heading out to stand outside in the rain for an hour, and I was still intimidated to take my first rainy ride of the year!
In fact, the only reason I had the gumption to head out, with all five of my children, to bike in the rain, was because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. And the only way to avoid that, was to put on all that rain gear — and a brave face — and head outside.
As is usually the case, once we put on our gear, got everyone on the bikes, and began to pedal, we were fine. Better than fine. We were smiling, delighted to be pedaling, laughing at the drips and drops of water that trickled down my face and the kids’ fancy raincover. Truth be told, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
I hope you also made it out to ride in the rain this week, but if you stayed inside or hopped in a car at the first sign of water, I do hope you’ll give rainy riding a try. It’s not so bad. It’s not so hard. You might even find you like it.
You will definitely want to get proper rain/winter gear, which makes a world of difference for rainy riding. (I’ll share our family’s favorite gear in a separate post). If you already have the gear, but are still tempted to reach for the car keys, here are some ideas to get you riding in the rain with a smile.
- Read: There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids by Linda Åkeson McGurk. I like this book so much, I think about it every time it rains and I consider re-reading it every autumn. You can find it at Powell’s.
- Watch: Be inspired by year-round family bikers and see how they manage winter weather. I enjoy seeing what local dad Shawne Martinez is up to, riding around greater Portland and Tigard with his kiddo every day. I also follow cargobikemomma Maddy Novich on Instagram. She rides year-round with kiddos in NYC weather. And she has an awesome winter helmet. Sometimes Instagram can make you jealous. Their pics just make me want to go for a bike ride.
- Challenge: Make a fun rain challenge for your family. How many rainy rides can you do this month? Can you make it a competition with another bikey family or group of families? Which of you will win the most-bike-rides-in-the-rain challenge? Maybe you can even come up with a prize for the winners. If you want to make it a collective (rather than competitive) challenge, you could decide that you’ll all have a pizza party once your group completes 100 rides in the rain. (This sounds like a fun way to get kids riding to school too.) It’s amazing how a little challenge, accountability, or promise of a reward can be just the nudge you need to get on the bike. Your kids might really get into it and even try to come up with extra reasons to go for a rainy bike ride–if it means winning!
- Reward: Treat yourself to quality winter gear. I take the reward-in-reverse approach. I start with a reward, which encourages me to use it. Every Fall, I pick at least one new-to-me piece of winter gear that I am really excited about. Last year, I splurged on an Alpaca wool hat and fingerless gloves from a local HIllsboro Alpaca farm. I wore them every day. I liked them so much, I wanted an excuse to go outside, just so I could enjoy wearing them again.
After all that, the best thing to do is just get out there and ride. Sometimes the first rainy ride of the year is the hardest. Go ahead and get it done! We’d love to see you out there.