Rainy Day Woman

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 5, 2011

in biking, life

Four years ago I sold my car for more than I bought it for. I haven’t looked back. Since then, I haven’t been too keen on getting a car (unless it was a Subaru WRX) and have made it through several years commuting either on foot, by bike, via bus or the occasional ride from a friend and later, my hubby.

As the rainy season has approached, I’ve kinda geared up for the fact that this is going to be my most intense rainy season/winter I’ve ever gone through. And I say this having a year of commuting in a Minnesota winter under my belt.

Bikes, snow

Photo courtesy of Listen Missy

This year is different. My destinations are more random as I set up meetings with different clients. I live farther away from the bus stops. And the one set place I go is in the opposite direction of Sante’s job, so I can’t even hitch a ride with him a few times a week.

Plus my needs are different. Before I could leave an extra set of clothes and a bit of makeup at work if I got soaked. Oh, and my computer could stay nice and dry at the office since there was no way in hell I would bring it out into the torrential downpour.

Rain storm in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad

Now I’ve got to get to my destination in said torrential downpour, oftentimes with computer, and still look fantabulous when I arrive.

Today was my first day of biking in heavy rain, and while I think everything worked out OK, there are still a few things I need for commuting in the rainy season here in Santa Cruz.

  • Waterproof pants. It is obvious that the Adidas warmup pants I’m sporting will do the trick in a shower, but not when I’m cruising around the west side with cars splashing puddles of water on me. UPDATE: This was clearly operator error. My pants work fine :)
  • A red light for my bike. I’ll skip the jokes about Californians and rain here, but seriously, a light is needed in order to be seen. I had one, but someone stole it. This is a time when I try to practice praying for my enemies.
  • A front fender.  I also had one of these, but it drove me bonkers because I would always kick it around when I turned corners. I think the benefits outweigh going a little bonkers.
  •  Waterproof gloves. I was nice and warm on my ride except for my poor little hands. Oh so chilly and completely soaked. And as a writer, I’ve gotta show my hands some love. UPDATE: Sante got me the best gloves. They were way too expensive and I love him for it.
  • Waterproof backpack. Although I’ve got a pretty decent set up going (zippered plastic comforter bag inside my backpack), I don’t know if I trust it to protect my computer through a serious storm. UPDATE: They make waterproof backpack covers.
  • Rain hat. OK I don’t know if I really need this, but I’m a sucker for hats, so this seems like as good of a reason as any.

    "Tell me you like my hat!"

I’m sure this list might change as the season goes on, but so far, these are the main things I’ve noticed I need.
And then there’s the few things I’ve already learned about biking in the rain here in town:
  • You probably shouldn’t try to ride over railroad tracks at an angle when they’re wet. You might fall. Just sayin.’
  • Sunglasses keep the rain out of my eyes but might end up being a problem once daylight savings hits.
  • People are seriously curious about someone riding their bike in a huge rain storm. So many people were just staring at me, most likely trying to get a better look at the wild woman in the rain.
Am I missing anything on the rain gear? Do you have any suggestions that have worked for you? And what other advice do I need?
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