Portland is starting to act like Portland again and that means we’re riding in the dark and damp. Whether you’re a bike commuter in fancy work clothes or a spandexed speed demon, we’ve compiled some tips to keep you safe and dry in the rain.
Get the right kicks:
Get a pair of nice rainboots or waterproof shoes for riding because nothing is worse than soggy feet. Hit up Next Adventure for new or used shoes, you’re bound to find more than enough gear there to survive the elements. Andy & Bax has a wide selection of boots and shoes; they even have waterproofing spray and waterproof socks!
Online you’ll find that Bogs makes some sweet waterproof boots and shoes and they’re sold in various locations around town: REI or Clogs-N-More. For the dapper dressed, Timberland, Keen, and Hunter make stylish rainboots. And don’t forget Leggits, waterproof overshoes!
Love some gloves:
Keep your handlebar hands from freezing up with a pair of warm and waterproof gloves. Cycling Portland covers the best winter riding gloves in this post. Also check out Bike Portland‘s review of gloves from Showers Pass.
So you’ve been living in Portland for how long and you don’t have rain gear? Get on it! Chrome Industries makes upscale bags and gear for urban cyclists; their outerwear provides protection from the wind and rain, with reflective details, active and passive venting, a mobile fit, and bombproof fabrication.
Of course, Andy & Bax, Next Adventure, Columbia, and REI are all local spots to suit up. For the ladies, Gladys Bikes carries a variety of cycling apparel, favoring businesses and makers that are local, women-owned, and USA made. You can always try a bike poncho or rain cape! Local shop Clever Cycles wrote an awesome blog about rain capes.
Winter biking 101:
- Tune it up. We know you rode hard all summer, so now is the time to tune it up and hit the slippery roads in better shape. Our favorite shops for tune-up and gear are: Clever Cycles, A Better Cycle, River City, and Bike Gallery.
- Check your tires: Decreasing tire pressure can actually help improve traction on slippery streets.
- Slow your roll: Road grit and water can erode brake pads, so slow down and brake early. In Portland, our streets are currently covered with wet leaves which function as cycling sabotage. Slow down, brake early, and watch the road.
Watch the corners: Cornering in the rain can problematic. Shift as much of your weight on the outside pedal as possible, keeping the bike more upright when cornering. You’ll be able to take the corner with a reasonable amount of speed, keeping balance as tires slide over slippy spots.
- Be seen: Obviously, visibility is a lot lower in winter. Many local riders even use lights during the daylight hours, due to the low light and gloom. Make sure you’ve got high and bright lights in the front and visible back light (carrying an extra set of batteries isn’t a bad idea either). Our favorite local spot for lights is Portland Design Works, featuring high-quality and simple gear with the urban cyclist in mind. Reflectors wherever possible is also recommended.
- Get some fenders: Nobody wants to arrive at their destination covered in a thin film of road grime. Portland Design Works’ also makes beautifully designed fenders, a must-have for rainy day riding.
Moral of the story is: suit up and ride safe. See you on the streets!