It was raining this morning; hard. Very hard; the kind of rain that offers no prospect of easing off in the near future and no prospect of staying dry while cycling in it. Is there ever such a possibility? In light, showery summer rain, yes, and even if you get a little wet in such conditions, you soon dry off once the shower passes. Not today.
With no option but to head out into it, I made a few strategic decisions, the first being to break out a bike with mudguards. Riding comfortably in heavy rain is, I’d contend, a question of temperature management, since staying dry does not happen (unless you don an old-fashioned cycling cape and spats). Soaking wet feet quickly get cold, but a well-clothed and racing “cape”-clad trunk can get too hot. Some way of balancing the two influences works well.
For me that means knee warmers but not arm warmers. Usually, if caught by a shower, I wear a sleeveless waterproof gilet and allow wet arms to keep me cool. Today, the long sleeves and filmy fabric of Rapha’s Stowaway Jacket offered just that bit more insulation given the likely length of the soaking to come.
No gloves or mitts; once wet, they feel horrid and take ages to dry, acquiring a foul odour in the process. A cloth road cap – by Prendas Ciclismo in this case – but then I always wear one. The peak does a great job of keeping rain out of the eyes.
And small plastic bags over the shoes. I know, it’s a dodge beloved of the kind of cyclist unlikely to have heard of RCUK, but I avoided the bag-over-shoe look by wearing them under oversocks. Nobody noticed a thing and my socks were dry enough to stay on my feet for the day.
And, amazingly, the rain eased off enough by the time I reached central the Smoke to allow me to dry off a little, ensuring my clothing would be bone dry for the start of the ride home. Pulling on dry clothes before a ride is, of course, the real secret of wet weather cycling comfort, summer or winter.