It rains a lot here in Little Bay Root. Not as much as it does in some places, but we still have three good rainy seasons. I was raised with a lot of rain, so I find it fairly comfortable. I tend to take the view that getting wet is inevitable and focus on damage control. I ride my bike in the rain and I walk in the rain. It really is inevitable.
Under these circumstances, I find it interesting how many cyclists appear to be deathly afraid of the rain. On Friday, my brood and I went to the local library. It was raining out, but not very hard, and it was still fairly temperate, so I was just wearing a fleece and the short pants that I’d been wearing earlier. I got a bit wet, but not enough to inconvenience or concern. Thus I was rather amused to see a man wrapped from head to toe in plastic. He was checking out something, so I had a moment to wonder at his protective outfit. He was apparently cycling, and so his gear consisted of: a helmet (with rain cover), a large yellow and black rain jacket, full-length rain pants, some kind of cycling shoes with neoprene show covers and a pair of gloves.
Now, it wasn’t more than a light rain outside, but here was a man dressed as if he was expecting to ride for hours through a monsoon. I just don’t get it. Helmet covers seem dumb to me. I’ve ridden in the rain a lot and I’ve never been uncomfortable because of my wet hair. All the water in my face can cut down my visibility, but a cover doesn’t help against that. I can understand a rain jacket and pants. Even if they don’t keep you 100% dry, they don’t absorb water and get heavy and chafe, so they still help. I’ve never used one of those expensive ($300+) rain jackets, but I suspect that you’d still get sweaty inside them, so they certainly don’t keep you pristine. As for shoe covers, that just seems extreme. They just look unwieldy and sweaty. I’d rather wear wool socks and bear it.
Somehow this head-to-toe plastic is symbolic of all the things that piss me off about other cyclists. I just don’t get the need to isolate from the environment. One of the great things about cycling is the wind in your face. Why would you want to wrap yourself in inorganic crap. Isn’t that just half-way to driving a car?
So I see these guys all around town, wrapped in plastic as if somehow afraid that the rain might dissolve them. There is a place for rain gear to keep you comfortable when it’s wet and nasty outside, but to see these guys take it to an extreme. I know that they don’t get to where they are going and peel of the plastic to reveal that they are perfectly groomed, dry and sweet smelling. No, they’re going to be covered in clammy sweat and nasty. I’m usually wet after a ride in the rain, but I rarely feel as nasty as I do when I’ve been sweating in plastic.
Then again, maybe if I dropped a thousand dollars on rain gear, I’d feel the need to wear it as often as possible.