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.