9 Tips for a Better Rainy-Day Bike Commute

No need to ever stop riding once it starts raining PDX- You just need to be be prepared!

No need to ever stop riding once it starts raining PDX- You just need to be be prepared! Photo credit: Showers Pass

With the onset of the rain this week, it’s always good to review some ‘best practice’ tips for dealing with the weather, while still enjoying your bike commute.

Here’s some tips/tricks we’ve learned in 7+ years of car-free commuting in PDX:

  1. Always have a spare pair of socks and underwear at the office to change if you get soaked.
  2. Use ziplock bags inside your waterproof bike bag for added rainproofing for phone, wallet, etc.
  3. If you wear glasses, a short brimmed cycling cap works great to keep the rain out of your eyes/glasses.
  4. Lights lights lights. (When in on roads with car, pedestrian traffic, use the flashing setting. However, if riding on a protected bike path, use a solid beam, but be careful to not point your light up towards oncoming riders faces.  
  5. Fenders and/or rain pants are really not an option in downpour weather- (Get them soon before they all sell out in your size– it happens every year!)
  6. I personally always prefered the hood of my jacket over the helmet (if your jacket can stretch enough, and still allow you to zip up fully). However, in the last year I got a nice snug rain jacket that zips up the neck a bit- When worn with a cap and helmet, I really never really get too soaked. 

  7. Layering is usually best, as rain might tends to soak into your jacket if it’s on it’s 2nd or 3rd season: start with a wool/wicking base layer, followed waterproof-ish jacket or vest, and then have a rainshell on top of all of it. (Yes, 100% not fun when you get sweaty!)
  8.  Waterproof socks (vs shoe covers) can keep feet and shoes dry, as rain pants will allow the water to drip into socks/shoes over time
  9. As many folks who have been year-round riders always say: “In the Pacific NW, there is NO such thing as bad weather- only bad gear.” Invest in good quality waterproof jackets, rain pants, and bags- it will last 2-3 seasons before needing replacement.

Do you have other great tips for bicycling during the rainy months? Reach out and let us know! 

Kevin Schmidt, PT, MSPT, CMP, Bike PT is Owner/Founder of Pedal PT in Portland, Oregon, and has been happily bike commuting in PDX over 7 years.