4 Reasons to Love Rain Riding
There are definitely fewer people on the bike lanes now that the rains have arrived in Portland. When I see another woman passing me on her bike, we generally give each other the secret smile, as in: “It isn’t so bad out here after all, is it?”
Though sometimes, it does feel that bad.
Like the other day when I left a workshop in Mt. Tabor, it was raining one of those pissy rains, those dribbly drippy rains where it doesn’t seem bad when you are looking at it from inside. And so I decided not to don my rain pants. On top of that, I was carrying a large white paper bag filled with leftover plates, napkins, and cutlery from the workshop. It’s almost always a bad idea to have a swinging bag dangling from your handlebars. So I had two bad ideas going – no rain pants, swinging paper bag – as I pulled away from the church curb.
My helmet, a new Bern all-weather helmet with a nice rim to keep the rain out of my eyes, doesn’t keep the rain off my head, due to its big vent holes at the top. By five blocks away from the workshop church, parts of the top of my head were as wet as my legs. Then, thwap, the bottom of the white paper bag collapsed, and an uneven shower of white paper napkins and small paper plates bounced out along the sidewalk.
After picking up all the paper plates and soggy paper napkins I was not only wet, I was cold, so back on the bike I started riding faster, hunkering down inside my jacket. Ahead of me, above the west hills, I could see the sky was partially blue, but I didn’t seem to be advancing any closer to the blue.
By the time I crested the hill on Harrison my fingers were seriously chilled. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl-woman with dirty blond hair smiling as she stood in the rain, her feet bare in the grass, cold rain falling on her head, too. She looked beatific and hippy-like, missing only a flower crown. She was saying something to me, and I was thinking ‘freak magnet,’ and so I just hunkered down further into my jacket. Ten feet past her I shook my head, as if to get my internal computer to realize what she was saying.
I slowed the bike and turned around. Behind me, a great sparkling rainbow had risen right above the rain clouds. Suddenly restore to ‘not too bad out here,’ I smiled the secret smile at hippy girl.
In the spirit of happy rain riding, I give you four great reasons to love it.
1) It’s hydration – fine mist for your epidermis. In Portland, we should have as many words for rain as the Eskimos have for snow. We have fine mist, pissy cold mist, drippy dribbling, and even, occasionally, sheets. It’s all great for the skin.
2) It’s good for the lungs. Rain is referred to by weather people as a ‘scrubber’ – it helps clear out the air pollution built up from stagnant air in winter high-pressure systems. So breathe.
3) It helps you sweat. No one likes excessive perspiration before a big meeting or a date (read tips on sweating and biking in my book Women on Wheels) but sweating is good for us. So put on those cheap rain pants and old-fashioned slickers and sweat up (during) a storm.
4) Biking is just better. After a lot of transportation cycling in a lot of different types of rain, I conclude (unscientifically, and unofficially) that biking in the rain is better than lots of other modes of rain travel. We’re afraid of the rain because we’ll get wet and cold and our mascara will run and we’ll sweat inside of our slickers and we’ll have to re-apply lipstick and our hair will be a little too curly, or a little too straight, etc, etc. All of these things, I assert, are better than being shut inside our cars, because no matter what kind of car you have, you won’t be able to see the hippy chick and the fantastic sudden rainbow as well inside of it as you will when on your bike. Promise.