The Case for Riding in the Rain (at least in summer)

This week I was about to depart for a road ride, when I looked out the window and the weather looked downright unpromising—gray, some storm clouds, a little breeze, and very humid in that it’s-about-to-rain sort of way. There was a weather advisory, predicting thunderstorms after 3pm. And it was 12:45pm already. Hence my dilemma:

But then I thought, you know, there are a bunch of reasons to embrace riding in the rain. So, in accordance with Samantha’s rule of six, herewith six reasons to ride in the rain (at least when it’s warm outside).

Number one: Riding in the rain is badass.

This fact is documented in The Rules for cyclists. I quote from their explanation below:

…Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

Number two: Riding home in a rainstorm is likely to increase your speed, provoking an impromptu high-intensity workout.

On my rainy ride this week I totally hauled it both out and back. On the way out I was trying to get to my turnaround point before the first drops hit, and then on the way back was trying to see if I could beat the rain home. I didn’t, but by then I was in the mood for some serious cranking, so I got a most excellent workout.

Number three: If you’re a) not in a hurry, and b) into accessorizing, riding in the rain presents you with intriguing gear options.

There is a saying (which the internet says is either Swedish or Norwegian) to the effect that “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing (or bad gear)”. In addition to the usual rain pants/rain jacket combos around, I found a number of rain-protection garments and accessories for those willing to stand out in the commuter crowd. You can be little red riding hood in this:

Or you could try this:

And of course, for those rain classicists, there’s the handlebar-attached umbrella.

She doesn’t look very dry, but it’s quite the snazzy setup.

Number four: Riding in the rain gives you an opportunity to engage in exercise of attitude adjustment through force of will, a skill that will come in handy in other situations.

Life presents us with lots of irritations and minor challenges: traffic, noisy neighbors, extra work assignments, clogged sinks, etc.  Raining on one’s bike parade seems like one of those irritations. Especially on a long ride, it can feel like this:

Of course sometimes the rainy weather really gets out of hand. My friend Pata blogged here about a particularly wet and muddy trek on her 2012 cross-country ride with her partner; here’s what she faced that day:

However, barring washed-out non-roads and torrential downpours (by the way, they got saved by a good Samaritan in a red pickup truck), a rainy ride can be rather pleasant.

Number five: Riding in the rain is easier than riding in the snow.

Now that we’re well into June, many of us may have forgotten this:

That’s actually a picture of a side street in Boston in February. There was no bike commuting, much less road riding, for weeks, except for a very few intrepid (read foolhardy) folks with studded tires or fat bikes. So in comparison, a little rain is nothing to fuss about. And remember, it’s warm outside…

Number six: Riding in the rain is a good excuse for singing in the rain. This is guaranteed to make your day sunnier, no matter what. What’s good for Gene Kelly is undoubtedly good for you, too.

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