30 October 2017

Rene Herse 3-person tandem on display

At the Bicycle Culture Center near Meguro Station.

22 October 2017

10th Consecutive Day of Rain = Time for a Rain Gear Review!

Outside Segafredo coffee in Shimokitazawa, in my rain gear!
Today marks (by one friend's count) the 10th consecutive day of at least some rain in Tokyo. We have had drenching rain, cold rain, warm rain, sprinkles, misty small droplets, and more.  Rain last weekend put the kabosh on Jerome's erstwhile attempt at SR600 Nihon Alps.

I have tried to put the best spin on things and have continued to ride my bicycle all over town on my commute and for other meetings and errands. (On short rides, in all but the heaviest rain, with decent rain gear and the right footwear, it is manageable. Every once in awhile, I arrive soaking wet, even after removing my rain gear.)

Overnight tonight we are expecting a typhoon. It has been raining in Tokyo most of the past 36+ hours -- the past 12 hours' relatively heavy but not cold rain, and it should rain straight through until the typhoon passes early Monday. Despite this "extremely large, strong" typhoon being a relatively fast moving storm, accelerating as it moves toward the Japanese archipelago, the Tokyo area is forecast to get up to 200mm (8 inches) of rain, while areas along the coast to the west of Tokyo should get even more rain.

Today's weekly Sunday morning Tokyo Cranks ride was cancelled due to rain, replaced with a morning coffee get together at the Segafredo shop a few hundred meters north of Shimo Kitazawa station.

Of course, I rode to and from ShimoKita for the coffee. I did not see a single other cyclist out on the trip over, and only one or two on the return trip. But it was not a bad ride. The roads are LESS slippery after several days of rain than after the first rain in days or weeks. The oily discharge from autos and trucks has mostly washed away after a day or two. And the wind was not strong.

Some thoughts on the rain gear I have used recently:

1. Showers Pass cycling rain jacket.

This is very good rain protection. Nicely roomy, longer sleeves than my other cycling rain shells, plenty of adjustment on the wrist velcro closing tabs. The only issues are that in Tokyo much of the time this jacket is too hot, with sweat on the inside becoming a major issue.  No reason to wear a rain shell if you are dripping wet anyway on the inside! The past week has been cool enough so this is not a problem. Another issue is that the version I have has no hood, and a relatively large opening around the neck. Again, not a problem on a commute, but not ideal for a ride of many hours in the rain.

2. Rain Legs

These rain "chaps" are a life saver. Light weight, easy to roll up and carry around the waist, easy to take on and off. For maybe 15% of the bulk of rain pants, you block 85% of the water that would hit your legs.  And with rain pants, sweat on the inside is always an issue, but not with these unless in extreme heat.

3. X3 clip on rain fender.

This is my favorite brand of clip on fender. It is easy to adjust. I like the MTB version that is a bit wider, since it continues to work even if it gets a wee bit off center. No, a clip on fender is not ideal, it will not keep the rain off your bike frame or grit off of your drivetrain, but it does keep your backside dry.

4. Cycling cap inside helmet.

The past week I have worn a cap with visor -- baseball cap or cycling cap -- inside my helmet. I find this is much more effective for maximizing eyesight than glasses would be in the rain. Glasses fog up.

5. Sealskinz (USA) gloves

These are good, but seem to have lost water resistance over the five plus years (10?) I have used them.

6. Sealskinz (USA) socks.

If I recall correctly, the "sealskinz" brand has different ownership/control in the US and the UK/Europe. These waterproof socks will retain a lot of water once it seeps in the top. They keep my feet dry the first 15-20 minutes of a soaking ride.

7. Shimano MTB style shoes. The shoes I am wearing in the photo actually do pretty well at keeping my feet dry (unlike some others) ... for the first 30 minutes of a soaking ride.

None of these will keep you fully dry if you ride in a rainstorm. But they will make a huge difference on a shorter trip, and welp make the rain tolerable, even fun. And they can make a huge difference in allowing you to ride in rain in the city and actually show up to meetings looking presesentable.