Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baby it's cold outside.... and wet.

Yesterday was a difficult day to be on the bike.  The morning started dry and in the mid to upper 20s.  By 8am the rain had started and the temps were right at freezing.  Though the rain wasn't a downpour, it was steady and soaking all day long.  The temperature didn't get much above freezing all day.  We were fortunate that the ground was warm enough that it didn't get icy.  

Photo by Ricky Lee Albores

I left the house at about 7am and didn't get home until bout 4pm in the afternoon.  I stopped a few times to warm up with coffee and get some lunch, but I was out doing advocacy work the vast majority of the day.  

I've been talking a lot about winter clothing, but I haven't really talked about what to do when it is raining and cold.  I got quite a few questions from friends on Facebook who were also out riding yesterday.  Many of them got very cold and wanted to know what I wore.

Here's the laundry list: 

Core: Castelli early winter long sleve base layer, Rapha wool jersey with an Endura Flyte rain jacket on top.Legs: Giro New Road wool blend bibs with Hincapie winter (fleece) shorts on top. Both had chamois, so I'm doubled up there. Over the top I used Endura Venturi 3/4 rain knickers. Embrocation on my lower legs (exposed skin) was Mad Alchemy Cold Weather - Medium.Feet: Swiftwick merino wool socks. Lake winter boots (MTB version sealed with SnoSeal bees wax sealant). Outdoor Research goretex gaters over the top.Hands: I changed gloves 4 hours into the ride since my first pair of gloves were wet. Assos liner gloves with Pearl Izumi WXB Lobster Glvoes (last year's model. Mostly waterproof and super warm) were good from 7am-1:30pm. I switched to Assos Liner gloves (the same ones from the morning...still wet) with Assos Early Winter gloves as a middle layer and Pearl Izumi WXB shell gloves over the top. The PI WXB shell gloves have no insulation, but are almost completely water proof and wind proof. My hands started out cold, but within 10 minutes were toasty warm and stayed there for the last 2.5 hours of my ride.
Head: Assos rain hat with a Laser Helium helmet with lexan cover on it that seals up all the vents.

When I felt myself getting too warm, I did one of two things... I either unzipped the jacket a few inches, or if it was raining a lot, I just backed off the riding a little and let my body back off generating so much heat.
When I got home, my jersey and shorts were dry. My base layer was a little damp from persperation, but most of that came in the last few climbs at the end of the day. My feet were dry and warm. My hands were wet, but warm.

There are three, maybe four jackets on the market these days that I'm aware of that can do what mine did today. None are cheap. Assos Sturmprinz is by far the best. Endura makes the Flyte and Venturi jackets. Rapha's rain jacket is legit. Showers Pass' top of the line jacket works great, Is the cheapest of the bunch, but seems to have build quality and endurance issues.

I've never found a garment that works as well as the Endura Venturi knickers, though in all honesty, I have not tried Assos rain pants. I'd guess they are up to the task.

Sorry that the answers all involve spending money. Rain + Cold has no inexpensive remedy. I know of some folks that do well with rain capes. They don't have to breathe because they're totally open at the bottom. For me, one gust of wind and I'm soaked.


  1. Nice post, Pete. Question. Why not just go with a full pant of some kind as opposed to shorts, gaiters and leaving the bit of exposed skin in the middle? I know you like to flirt and show off your legs, but....

    1. Hey Kent. I tend to overheat in full pants... even in the rain. The modular approach lets me adjust to the conditions better.

      Additionally, it saves me money. Good rain pants can be expensive. If I'm able to achieve something close with stuff I've already got in my wardrobe, it saves me a few hundred bucks. If I lived and rode further north, as you do, I'd likely own a set of pants too.

      Thanks for the great question.