Author Topic: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?  (Read 2876 times)

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Offline BikeFreak

Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« on: March 06, 2016, 12:45:57 pm »
Hi,

I had some thoughts on my 4 USA cross country USA trips, where even one of them was the Continental Divide Trail:

1. All trips were in the summer (June, July, August)
2. All four trips equal a total of approx 160 riding days equalling approx 1600 riding hours.
3. All trips were in the continental USA which is dominated heavily by non-oceanic climate.
4. Unlike oceanic climate, the rain is typically hard and for a short period of time: Some minutes to a few hours. I have NEVER experienced riding days with 100% rain. I think on the transam the longest rain period was 2 hours and then the skies cleared.
5. I estimate that I rode a total of 20-30 hours in rain. That is only 1.5% of all riding days all together. And as described, typically the rain lasted for maybe an hour.

I always found it annoying to pull out the rain gear, start riding, getting really sweaty and damp, and then after 15 min everything stops and I have to spend time stuffing all my rain gear again. This would be my usual cycle when it rains. Thus, lately I have always tried to find shelters along the way and just wait for the rain to stop - it is VERY annoying because on the other hand I want to get going. But then again I know it will stop in an hour or so.

So the question arises: Why not entirely leave all the rain gear at home, find a shelter (abandoned barn, big tree - worst case pull out tent fly), wait for the rain to stop and carry on. A nice thing about this approach is, that you automatically get a long break, you will save 1-2 pounds of gear and the volume of 2-6 beer cans. Contrary to hiking this method also makes more sense because you can rapidly view a shelter in the distance and go there rapidly. Walking there would make you soaking wet.

I have to emphasize, this will not work in cold oceanic climate.

Has anyone played with these thoughts?

Lucas

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2016, 01:34:48 pm »
OK, I'll bite! Here's why ditching rain gear wouldn't work for me, or why I wouldn't do it:
  • I've been on a bike tour in the middle of the continent (so not an oceanic climate) and dealt with at least one day of all day rain, if not more.
  • Sometimes there's no handy shelter available.
  • Sure, I could try to set up a tent fly. But what if we're talking about a good stiff wind? And setting up a tent fly takes longer than grabbing a rain jacket from a bag.
  • And most importantly, good rain gear is an extra layer for when things get cold or go south. When touring on the North Cascades Hwy a few years ago, we got rained on early into our ascent up Sherman Pass, which we never really dried out from. At the top of the pass which is 5575 feet, there was a roadside thermometer reading 40F/4C. Descending from the pass for the next several miles was cold enough, but would have been a lot worse if we didn't have the raingear for warmth and windbreak.

I know raingear seems useless if there's no rain, but it's great to have it if/when you need it!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2016, 02:04:51 pm »
It depends on how you define rain gear.  I don't take "real" rain gear but find a water resistant shell mandatory.  I usually also take water resistant wind pants.  I have seen some cold rain and I didn't ever take the whole day off.  Shelter has not always been available.

My current water resistant wind shirt (The North Face Binary) weighs 3 ounces.  My water resistant wind pants weigh 3.5 ounces.  They both are among my most used items, are light, and pack small.  Especially since they are so small and light they are definitely not something I am likely to forgo on a coast to coast trip.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 10:33:51 am by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2016, 02:23:30 pm »
1. Summer isn't always warm.
2. Rain doesn't always stop.
3. Shelter isn't always available.
4. Shelter isn't always comfortable.
5. Waiting out rain is boring.
6. You don't always have the time.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2016, 02:27:23 pm by John Nelson »

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2016, 03:53:01 pm »
In the Midwest, you can easily have rain all day long.  Not this one hour only fantasy you talk about.  And you can easily have two-three-four consecutive days of rain on and off all day and night.  Usually spring weather.  Its also possible although not common to get into the 50s temps in the summer.  Day time as well as night time.  But if you can easily find a restaurant or store or library to spend the entire day, then that is probably better than riding in the rain all day.  The ease of that might be hard though.

indyfabz

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Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2016, 10:03:37 am »
I toured in South Dakota last year. I was waiting out a passing thunder storm in Hill City. The temperature in town dropped some 25 degrees very quickly. A couple pulled in to the trail head shelter. They had just come down the hill into town on the Mickelson Trail from about 5,600'. There was no shelter on that part of the trail and the husband did not have adequate rain gear. He was shivering and his hands were literally blue.

I got rained, sleeted and snowed on descending an 8,000' mountain pass in MT two years ago. Some 26 miles of wet, cold downhill. A few days later I descended a 7,300' pass in a pouring, very cold rain. Again, that was in June. In each case there was no shelter from the storm.

My first trip was the Northern Tier. we had several instances of all day rain including the August day that included crossing the Kancamagus Highway. Upper 40s and all day rain along lake Ontario and in the Adirondacks in August. Cold, all-day rain heading to Lake Itasca S.P. in MN in July.

I could go on.

Offline RonK

Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2016, 09:05:57 pm »
Murphy's Law applies. Leave your rain gear at home and you'll get day after day of inclement weather - wind, rain, hail, sleet.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2016, 09:10:13 pm »


I got rained, sleeted and snowed on descending an 8,000' mountain pass in MT two years ago. Some 26 miles of wet, cold downhill. A few days later I descended a 7,300' pass in a pouring, very cold rain. Again, that was in June. In each case there was no shelter from the storm.



I had the exact same experience on June 22, 2009 in Montana with an ACA tour.  Many were caught out in a blizzard of wet snow in Lost Trail Pass, including a certain ACA leader and his daughter who had very inadequate gear for this surprising place at this time.  It had been sunny and nice on the way up the pass.  One woman became hypothermic and had to be driven down to a motel in the closest town for warmth. I would never go on a multi-day tour w/o rain gear, including shoe covers and good gloves. As others have said, the rain coat serves as a good windbreaker, even when there's no rain.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2016, 12:35:17 am »
OK, it seems that I have been EXTEMELY lucky during all my trips in the US.

Lucas

Offline johnlemk

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2016, 05:12:20 pm »
For me the objective in having rain gear is to stay warm. Nothing will keep me dry, but I will not be both wet and cold.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Rain gear in the summer: Why carry it at all?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2016, 03:02:42 am »
OK, it seems that I have been EXTEMELY lucky during all my trips in the US.

Lucas
You certainly have. I took rain gear from Jasper to Portland last summer with blazing sun all the way and not a second of rain. The guidebooks did say you could get snow in June on the Icefields Parkway ( the name gives a hint). I didn't regret taking it, it's just the cost of safe touring IMO. I got hypothermia in the North Cascades when rain turned to sleet and my rain gear was defective (Gore Bike Wear actually replaced it) Never again