Riding in the Rain...What a Glorious Feeling...I'm Happy Again by Anna Sojourner

So, you want to ride your bike all winter? Let me tell you what you need to do: Go out and buy yourself one Super-dooper Gore-tex custom-made raincoat ($400) and matching pants with zip cuffs ($300), Campy titanium-plated front and rear fenders ($200), rain goggles ($175), shoe protectors ($150) and a special air-dry seam-sealed helmet ($225). Total cost: $1450. Then you'll be nice and cozy all winter. The end.

Just kidding.

Years ago I took pains to avoid riding in the rain. I remember seeing cyclists in the rain and thinking to myself "that doesn't look like any fun at all." Now I ride happily in almost any weather, wondering if the people pitying me know just how pleased I am to be outside.

Andrew rides on Duboce Avenue on a lovely rainy day. Photo by Sam Laser
Many people will tell you that to ride in the rain, you need a lot of equipment. If that's a solution you can afford, buy yourself some top-of-the-line comfort. I have a Gore-tex jacket and pants, and these items are well worth the investment for me (but I often work outside in the rain).

I passed several winters with just rubber raingear, including an ill-fated journey to Santa Cruz through 4 1/2 hours of nonstop tempest. Rubber raingear is cheap, it's often brightly colored, and it can allow you to bike through a rainy winter without laying out a small fortune.

Fenders? Fenders are worth the investment, but each bit of equipment is also added weight and maintenance. An alternative to buying fenders is building your own out of plastic soda bottles. For a front fender, cut a two-litre soda bottle in half lengthwise and trim the ends off. Burn two holes about 1/2" apart in the center, about one-third of the way down. Burn a second set of holes a bit further down. Lace a zip-tie through the holes, and snug up the contraption on your downtube, et voila! It leaks a bit when you turn corners but does an admirable job. To cut down the spray when turning and to add more space for stickers, cut a flare for the base of your homemade fender out of an old bleach bottle.

The rear fender calls for a somewhat more elaborate setup. An old bike water bottle is stiffer than a soda bottle and holds the fender in place better. Slice the bottle in half lengthwise and attach it to your rack with zip-ties in the same way the front fender is attached. Then attach half of a two-litre soda bottle to the bike-bottle so it hangs over your rear tire, and a bleach-bottle flare if desired.

But here's the secret that people who pity us riding in the rain don't know: The best thing about riding in the rain is the weather. With the whipping wind and fresh smell of the air before a storm, it's one of the most glorious times to be out riding.

RAIN RIDING TIPS: