Rainy Rides

Photo: Flickr Baudman

There are so many wonderful reasons to live and work in Vancouver. One of my favourites is the ability to bike year-round! Of course, summer riding reigns supreme. However, with storm season officially upon us, a whole new dimension has been added to the morning bike commute.  Not for the faint of heart, torrential rain and gusty winds on the downtown bike lanes tend to separate the weak from the strong. Rain during rush hour certainly brings some challenges, but for those who enjoy a good dose of nature, it also offers up unexpected thrills and delights; the sound of wind whistling through your bike helmet, rain pelting your face, and slippery corners testing your balance!

Photo: Flickr Anthony Maw

Granted, most human beings are creatures of habit, and those dedicated and passionate commuting cyclists are no different. They tend to ride the same route, at the same hour of the day on their quest to  arrive at work on time. During storm season, a unity of purpose is evident. Simply observe a group of cyclists at the next stop light. Splattered with mud, soaked to the skin, they will nod at each other, in solidarity. Comrades in Gortex, they bravely forgo the comforts of an automobile or bus and spin along our transportation corridors undeterred by stormy conditions.

Photo: Rob Weiss

While biking along the rain washed streets isn’t for everyone, for many of our car-free citizens it’s a must. How do they survive the elements? Here are a few tips for riding in the rain from those die-hard, weather-beaten commuters:

  • Install front and back lights on your bicycle or helmet – see and be seen!
  • Wear good eye protection – keep road debris away from your eyes.
  • Rain gear – invest in a good quality rain jacket and rain pants.
  • Fenders – although a little “nerdy” fenders will protect you from taking a mud bath.
  • Footwear – from plastic bags to neoprene booties, keeping your feet warm and dry is the goal.
  • Gloves – warm hands make the difference!
  • Smile – it works to lighten your mood, and of course, keeps those in their vehicles guessing.

Photo: Flickr Paul Krueger

Geared up and ready to roll?

Check out Vancouver’s cycling map. One final question before you join the converted commuters:  will you get wetter if you walk, run or ride in the rain? Thankfully, Harvard mathematician David Bell answered this age-old query.  It is true! When the rain is falling vertically, or the wind is in your face, you should ride, and the faster you ride, the less wet you will get. That’s science!

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