Fair Weather Riding

Last week we drove more often than we rode, or it felt like it any how. There were illnesses, cold days, and rainy afternoons. I did call a friend, and it took two cars (Pilot and Odyssey) to transport two bikes and my two children in addition to their five offspring combined to get everyone/thing home. It was greatly appreciated that day, as we had two with fevers and one vomiting. I wouldn’t have driven them anywhere, and Brent couldn’t do pick up because of class (also prior to the second Yuba.) I posted a photo on Facebook one day, of Oliver tucked into his car seat, napping under a flannel blanket, rain streaming down the window.

There was guilt in that photo. 53F sure felt cold that day. And I was remembering how my jeans feel glued to my upper legs with rain water. I just wasn’t ready for this weather. Pants aside, I didn’t have the mind to deal with it. Any of it. This day preceded the double episode of hand, foot and mouth disease and the vomiting, so maybe we both just needed to rest. Rest our bodies and our minds.

I am stubborn. That’s being nice about it. I like my commute. I love the challenge of it. I enjoy feeling alive each and every day and accomplishing those climbs and breathing in the season. When I manage to convince myself not to ride, or circumstances prevent it, I feel cheated and a bit lost. When it started raining today, at 60F, and no end in sight, I gathered every rain jacket in the house.

Oliver and I rode, wrapped up in polyvinyl chloride, nylon and polyester, up to school in the rain. 60F is a great temperature for rain. I was sweating lightly but didn’t unzip. My camera was around my neck. The wind was light and my glasses stayed clear under the brim of my Yakkay helmet. Oliver slept.

Yes he did. He felt asleep before we left the garage. Not a nod or a wink from him till we returned. No comments from passersby either. They know this tot can sleep through anything. He just doesn’t sleep at night (he’s still up now!). I put him in his slicker and then wrapped London’s long rain coat around his legs, securing the wrists at the back of the iBert with a hair tie.

I was most impressed with my own giddup. I wore Brent’s over-sized rain coat with the hood down and then tied my Columbia jacket around my waist, backwards. The back of the coat covered my lap like a skirt, keeping my pants dry! The iBert shields my knees and lower legs fairly well. It was impromptu, and made me a happy stoker. Of course, no photo. Let’s just say it aids in my argument of our mobile circus.

We learned last year that we should check our brakes in the rain. First thing. The children do this without a reminder now. Elliot was finding that he was fish tailing in the parking lot. I theorized his rear tread was low, and decided, for safety, I would just carry him and the bike back home. This made for a happy Elliot, and yet another reason e-assist feels like the right choice for our family. The two little boys are a combined 85lbs now. Elliot is near 60 and add in the two back packs and diapers bag and it’s a full load on a hill. I couldn’t even use the full momentum of the downhills to go up the other end, as we were riding slower in the rain. Fresh fallen leaves, wet asphalt, and a heavy bike equates to caution.

He didn’t ride home on his own saddle. He just wanted to see if he could. We might try to secure the bike and let him take a spin around the block one day. Just for fun. It has the potential of a makeshift Follow-me-tandem.

We arrived home safely. I lost my rain coat skirt on the way back, using it instead as a seat pad for Elliot. Every other rain coat was covering a backpack or a body. We pulled into the garage and draped the wet gear on the drying rack I set up before leaving. Best to keep the mess contained. This way, they can grab them on their way to school tomorrow.

We have the makings for being fair-weather cyclists, but we try hard to solve our challenges creatively and compromise between my persistence and Brent’s concerns. Rain pants are on my list, and have been (holding out for used or extreme discounts). We wore snow pants in the cold last year, but Brent thinks they hinder mobility for the older two and then they have to change upon arrival/departure.

What says you? Where have you invested in rain/snow gear to make the ride safe, quasi-comfortable, and quick to transition?


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4 thoughts on “Fair Weather Riding”

  1. We got our rain coats at the columbia outlet near us and new, discount rain boots at one of the outlet stores too. Then I ordered their rain pants from LL Bean. It wasn’t too expensive and they have free shipping 😉 My husband and I have rain gear from just having hiking/camping gear of our own, so we didn’t have to get anything new for us. And we know our stuff works well. Haven’t had to bust out the gear yet, but it’s good to have.

    1. I keep my eye on LLBean, waiting for a good sale/clearance! No outlets around these parts…about two hours or more away, by car. Yet, I do pass by that way going to my parents. Might have to plan a stop. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. You weren’t the only one last week- we didn’t commute by bike once due to the weather. I hate it when it changes so suddenly. And we definitely felt like we were missing out on a fun part of the day and I hated getting in the car. But we need raingear before I feel OK doing it with the little guy. Back when I used to be a more serious biker, I had a whole get-up, with pants (super clearance at EMS) and a raincoat. Campmor and Sierra Trading Post can have reasonable prices on things like that. For J, after last week, we’re actually considering either shoe covers, or a second pair of shoes for him at the office. (he only wears one pair so that’s complicated too!) But either is cheaper than gas and a parking permit all semester!

    1. Last year we invested in better shoes for Brent too. I just despise the idea of specialty clothing for children who out grow everything so quickly. I will keep my eyes peeled for Z sized options at consignment/thrift!

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