Question: In the last month I’ve set a record, being caught in the rain on seven bike rides. I don’t want to ride my fender bike and wear a rain jacket if the weather looks okay, but storms have been blowing in without warning. What non-bulky clothing can I carry in my jersey pockets for protection against these spring rains? – Shandra P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Assuming that it’s warm enough that you start the ride in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey, here are the minimum emergency items to keep you from hypothermia in a chilly rain. You can tote them in jersey pockets or a seat bag. They won’t keep you toasty and comfortable, but you’ll be able to get home before begging the shelter of someone’s front porch.
- Arm and knee warmers. They fold or roll compactly and help protect your extremities. In the wet, warmers made of wool, polypropylene or a name-brand synthetic will hold in heat better than unlined Lycra.
- Skull cap. Substantial heat is lost through the head, so pack a cap that’ll fit comfortably under your helmet and can be pulled down to cover your ears. Again, choose one made of synthetic material that holds in body heat better. I tested one made by DoWrap in the past. (Click the link to read the review.)
- Long-finger gloves. Choose a lightweight model that is stretchy enough to pull on over your cycling gloves. If there is gripper material on the palms and fingers, so much the better in the wet.
- Wind shell or rain cape. Usually made of nylon or a similar thin, lightweight synthetic, these aren’t waterproof but they will hold in some body heat and keep you cleaner. They roll up much smaller than a lined rain jacket.
- Butt cover. Without fenders, water flies off your rear tire and soaks your shorts and chamois. That’s a quick way to chill your core, and a wet chamois promotes chafing and abrasions. If your shell or cape doesn’t have a long enough tail to cover your butt and saddle, pack a piece of plastic bag about 18 inches square. Tuck it in your shorts so it drops down like the long tail of a rain jacket.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.