As Fields used to say, “Any knucklehead can finish a ride in the rain. But it takes a hard fucker to start in it.”
Fields never let the rain get in the way of his riding, or anything else that I recall.
I have always been pretty good about following the mantra of my Norwegian riding buddy Tora: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.”
The one thing that scares me about my upcoming ride to Texafornia is the rain. From LA to Canada and back again, up hill and down dale, I encountered rain once, in the Thompsons’ backyard in Olympia, a baby drizzle that lasted about ten minutes. So scarified am I of the rain that I even bought a tarp to protect my gossamer lacewing tent from the pounding of water drops, six or seven a minute, even.
Touring rain is way scarier than exercise rain. Exercise rain is never too far from home, coffee, bed, cat. Touring rain? As Bryan Kevan told me about his ride through Patagonia, “It rained when I got there.”
“Wow. How long?”
Or the gal who reported on her south-to-north Tour of England, where she had fourteen days of 40-degree rain. “I went to bed wet. I slept wet. I woke up wet. It was wet.”
This kind of shit is gnarly …
When I ride to Houston I am going to get wet. So I’ve decided to take the rain seriously and ditch the best, most serviceable, warm, waterproof cycling jacket I have ever owned. It cost a lot and was a Baby Seal special recommendation. This thing works. Put it over a wool jersey and you will be toasty even if there’s no rain at all. I had numerous freezing mornings where the addition of this made all the difference.
In my quest to reduce weight, reduce space, and improve functionality, I made the hard decision to get rid of the best piece of rain gear I’ve ever owned. I shed a little tear, even. The problem with the rain jacket is that I still will have to take a lighter jacket to go underneath it, which I’ll need in a freezing rain because the shell, although warm, won’t be warm enough. That extra jacket means extra weight and space. The other problem is that warm, waterproof cycle wear is generally uncomfortable when stumbling around camp or burning your lips off with scalding coffee or dropping same on your crotch.
I got to wondering what I could find that would double as a coat and a rain jacket but that wasn’t bulky like an anorak or a parka? The answer? Of course! A wool coat!
I internetted a bit and found the perfect item. It seems that sheep have been used for centuries to keep people warm and dry, and a company in Seattle has been making wool coats since before the turn of the 19th Century. What could be better than a wool jacket? It would take a monsoon to wet it through and through, and wool keeps you warm even when wet, and it smells like sheep so you’re never lonely.
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