….stay as dry as possible.
Is anyone still cycling in this weather? The elements tend to have a huge effect on the volume of cyclists struggling to get to work at rush hour, and while I refuse to be branded a “fair-weather cyclist”, there are times when you just long to arrive at your destination without needing to then towel yourself down.
If you’re not inclined to wearing yellow HI-vis ponchos and rubber shoe socks, keeping dry in style can become a bit more challenging. But here are a few tips to consider.
- If your bicycle doesn’t have mud-guards (fenders), investing in a set will save you from endless woes stemming from a wet bum and back! Etsy is a good place to look for quirky alternatives to the usual range, so pay a visit to Hanson Bike Works, Off Cut Studio and Red Tail Fenders, or look to these for some inspiration: Clank Plank, and custom wooden fenders.
- Once your mudguards are on securely, your lap and your back are the most likely places for giant wet patches to appear, so invest in a cape that will cover your knees as you pedal. Luckily for us, capes are key items in the new season, so we’re spoilt for choice. When buying a cape take the following things into account: can it be fastened all the way down to the hem? A cape with only a few buttons near the neck is unlikely to offer much protection to your sodden knees! What is it made of? Woollen capes will see you right through the autumn and through the snows as they will retain heat better and shouldn’t absorb much rain. Depending on the cut, a cape will also allow you to layer up once the temperature drops whilst retaining the movement in your arms! Rain ponchos and capes made of plastic materials will be light-weight and water-resistant but these fabrics retain heat and don’t offer good circulation, so they can get pretty sticky.
- If your coat or cape has a hood, you’ll need to get some extra long hair grips to pin the hood to your hair. This will both stop the hood from falling off in the wind, and also keep it clear of your face so that you don’t lose any visibility and will be able to free turn your head to see left and right. Alternatively, a helmet or a brimmed hat should fit snugly under your hood and both keep the rain out of your eyes (essential for glasses wearers like me) and keep your hood from blowing off so easily.
- Keep your ankles dry by investing in boots, but keep these pointers in mind when making your purchase: Tight boots or hard materials will restrict your ankle movement when pedalling, and Ugg boots or suedes are unlikely to survive a ride in the torrents without significant damage or discolouration.
- If an outfit calls for pumps, a pair of reflective spats will keep the water from seeping into your shoes and make you more visible at night as well. Two N Fro have some dashing tweed spats, which you can buy on the CycleChic website for £35.
- Carry a teatowel with you so that you can dry off your saddle before starting a journey, or your face once it’s taken a good whipping from the rain. Cath Kidston‘s selection are dainty enough to look like accessories and aren’t made of a towelling material, so shouldn’t become water-logged.
- Remember this: think water-resistant! The PVC box bags at Cath Kidston are have zips, so are fully waterproof and tuck into baskets perfectly (standard square/rectangular, not D-shaped). They start at just £20 and are worth every penny. Browse the full range here, and check out the mini oilcloth rucksacks while you’re there.
- A pair of cycle gloves will keep the biting wind off your knuckles. Knog offer a fun twist on the standard design, and some of their products can be found on ebay, so you can save on those US shipping fees.
- Visibility is reduced in winter – it’s darker and you’ll be harder to spot through the sheets of rain, so a good set of lights, particularly rear lights, is important. The Knog Skink has six settings (I love the disco style “party on my bike” sixth setting) and comes in 6 different colours. Plus you can get a matching front light in the same colour from any one of their range.
- Saddle covers! These nifty little accessories are slipped over the saddle when you park up so that when you return you can take it off again and set off with the reassurance that your bum will remain comfortably dry! If you can’t get hold of a saddle cover, a shower cap will do the trick just as well!