It’s raining, it’s pouring… well, it will be soon! However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up cycling for the winter. If you dress right, riding in the rain can be a downright pleasant experience.
Raincoats aren’t exactly hard to come by on the West Coast. Still, there are a few features you’ll want to look out for that will make riding a lot more comfortable. The first is length. Since you lean forward while riding, a short coat will expose your lower back to all the water and grit thrown up by your tires. So, try to find a coat that is quite long or get a cycling-specific jacket (like the ones sold at Hub City Cycles), which are cut longer in the back and shorter in the front. Another nice feature is vents. These slits are designed to prevent your coat from becoming a sweat box, and are usually found under a flap on the back and zippered under the armpits.
Waterproof pants come in two fits: those so tight you can only fit spandex under them and those loose enough to slip over a pair of jeans. They both work well, so just choose based on your lifestyle (do you need to be able to strip off your rain clothes in 30 seconds before rushing into work?). The only things to look out for in both choices are rise and length. You’ll want something long enough to protect your ankles and high enough to work with your coat to protect your lower back.
Wet feet are always terrible, but there are two ways to avoid it while cycling. The most versatile is to wear boot covers. These slip over your everyday shoes and are zipped closed over your pants (thus doubling as cuffs to keep your pant legs out of the chain). Your second option is to wear waterproof shoes, such as gumboots. Just be sure to tuck your footwear into your pants so water doesn’t leak into your shoes.
Innocent little raindrops can feel like shrapnel in your eyes when you’re flying along on a bike. And since it’s pretty important to see while you’re riding, a pair of glasses is indispensible. Sunnies don’t work well under overcast skies or at night, so get glasses with clear or yellow lenses. There are cycling-specific glasses, but a pair of safety glasses from the hardware store work just as well.