Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rainy inspiration

I rode home in a bit of rain  a couple of nights ago,  and I'm happy to say that Minerva's hub brake passed with flying colors!  Even the Koolstops on the back weren't doing much of anything, but the hub brake worked flawlessly, even in a pretty consistent drizzle., and then rode in in a bit more rain than I would have liked to ride in.  I wore my butter yellow trenchcoat, and was perfectly dry.

 I don't love riding in the dark AND the rain,  and so I turned on every light at my disposal:  Superflash on my helmet,  steady generator taillight, backup blinkie on seat post,  "to see" light (IQ Cyo)  and christmas lights on my bike wreath.  Literally lit up like a Christmas tree.

I can't wrap my head around why anyone would ride without lights, and I saw a couple of them .  I wanted to ask them, in a sincere, non snarky way, why?  Did they forget them, or forget to turn them on?  Have them stolen and haven't replaced them yet?  Feel that they're too expensive?  Do they think they're not effective, or not necessary?
It feels like cyclists tend to divide into three camps.  Arms racers, (who tend towards the stereotype of the "bike commuter" in neon gortex)  who have the latest 1400 lumen Magic Shine, often in seizure inducing flash mode)  Ninjas,  who have nothing,  and the middle ground of citizen cyclists, who have a cheap set of blinkies,  probably don't identify as "cyclists"  and who are just getting from A to B on their bike.

I'm much less likely to ride TO work in the rain, because, as happened yesterday, I have to sit in my clothes if I get wet.  In my defense, it wasn't really raining (just spitting a bit) when I left the house, and I was running late, so I didn't have time to take the T.  I just threw on a shell and hopped on my bike, and got damper as I went along. My wool tights and leather boots are fine, but my cotton skirt got soaked below the hem of my jacket.  Should have pulled the trench coat off the rack instead.

I did however have what I think might be a very useful idea.   I've been flirting with raincapes, including the possibility of making my own out of waxed canvas.   However, they have a sail like tendency,  and I just don't ride in the rain enough to make them useful.  Rain pants seem like too much work, and too hot, and I have to change my clothes to wear them  but what if I made a rain skirt?  Something just below the knee,  full cut to slip over whatever skirt I was wearing,  and with a simple elastic waist to hold it in place. It would self-ventilate like a cape would (to some extent).  I'm really excited about the possibilities of this as something that wouldn't require as much pattern making as a cape, but which would protect me better if I do choose to ride in the rain.

Against my better judgement I'm going to post photos on the internet of the prototype- a drawstring garbage bag, from which I removed the end,  using the drawstring as a waistband.

the small brown dog looks on with curiousity
Works pretty well, but doesn't win any style points.  Stay tuned for further, and hopefully more fashionable developments.
And on a final note,  I stopped at the store tonight for this:
Yes, as a matter of fact that IS 7 pounds of butter.
Let the holiday baking begin!


  1. This is a great idea! I can't bring myself to buy ill-fitting rainpants for $100+. I've taken to wearing skirts/tights in the rain because tights are more comfortable and faster drying if they get wet. But the hem of my skirt gets wet too so this would be a great solution.

  2. A rain skirt is a brilliant idea! Just the thing to keep rain off the bottom half. I do not like the idea of plastic pants, far too sweaty and restrictive, but I think the skirt could work, I am looking forward to hear how it goes ...


  3. Could I refer to it as a "rain kilt"? I could carry something like that in the bag with my jacket just in case.

  4. Hey, its been done.
    I haven't tried their rain skirt but their primaloft Heidi skirt got me through last winter and I splurged and bought the goosedown version for this winter.
    Isis also makes a skirt that isn't a rain skirt but the fabric is very water repellent.
    However, I tend to just go with a pair of LLBean rain pants that I've had for years. Not fashionable but they work.

  5. @ Anon, thanks for the link.
    That looks a bit long and straight for comfortable bike use? I guess you can zip up the sides to open a slit for mobility but I wonder how you keep the zipper from creeping upward? hmmm lots to ponder

    And why is so much rain gear black? Not that I want it in dayglo yellow, but how about khaki, off white or silver?

  6. With the Skhoop I have I've never had a problem with the zippers - its very well made. Though for cycling, I kind of like the idea of a simpler, lighter skirt that would just slip on and didn't take up much space in a gear bag.
    As for color, I am against the "all black" in general but that's all I can find for anything these days. I wish the gloves/mitts/etc came in brighter colors as I always end up losing them.
    ---julie (aka anon)

  7. Absolutely worth the exchange rate and shipping:

    I have the Spirit poncho, and it keeps me dry to my ankles, and covers my arms and hands. With the hand straps and waist strap, it doesn't flap around at all.

    The long coat is pretty cute too.

  8. Oops, correction, I have the "Track" poncho. I kind of wish I'd gotten it in red - the orange is really, really orange!

  9. Step Through, Yeah, I've looked at that, and similar models by carradice and made here, but I'm not sure I want to have that kind of yellow-poncho look. I guess my goal could be described as wanting to be able to step off my bike and go into a meeting, something that doesn't work well with either ponchos or rain pants..

  10. A drawstring garbage bag skirt!
    I think that's a great idea in itself actually : )