Cycling in the Rain

Very wet at the entrance to the Henry Hudson Bridge (last week).

Very wet at the entrance to the Henry Hudson Bridge (last week).

I imagine when most people see even a chance of rain in the forecast, any thoughts of going for a bike ride immediately vanish.  But nowadays, when I see rain in the forecast, I smile.

Why do I smile?  For starters, it is already getting very hot on some days.  Getting wet from the rain is a refreshing break from ending a ride dripping wet in sweat.  Besides, so what if I get wet?  Since I wear dedicated cycling clothes, I completely change my clothes when I get where I’m going regardless of the weather.  Since I outfitted my bike with full-protection fenders, I don’t even get that muddy, and most of the rain hitting my body is coming from above.  What comes from above is (more or less) clean.  It is the water from below mixing with various dirt and grime from the street that causes most of the discomfort.

Next, fair weather is sort of a double-edged sword.  Sure, it’s nice to ride in fair weather, but I’m certainly not the only one that thinks so.  In a city as large as New York, fair weather practically guarantees that throngs of leisure riders, tourists, kids, and other people who seem not to know or care how to properly handle a bike down a busy path will descend upon the Greenway.  Not to mention leisure walkers, couples out for a stroll, baby-pushers, and groups that seem to not even realize they are walking 3 abreast in the bike lane.  At one point in April, after a long period with cold and/or drizzly weather practically every day, NYC got its first taste of Summer, with temperatures reaching up into the 80s.  On that day, I think the rate of cycling on the Greenway was easily triple the average from previous days.  It was practically stop and go as cyclists of varying speed negotiated the huge crowds.  Thankfully, even nicer days since then have not been nearly as crowded, so I attribute that exceptional day to a tremendous build-up of New Yorkers’ collective physical energy, accumulated over a long Winter, suddenly unleashed.

Perfect cycling weather

Perfect cycling weather.

In this respect, I consider light mist and 60 degrees, the weather I experienced this morning, to be the absolute best for my commute.  It is enough to deter the vast majority of other potential walkers, joggers, and cyclists, yet not raining hard enough to make braking and general bike handling more challenging, nor cold enough to make me shiver while wearing short sleeves.  Riding a bike certainly has changed my life, but the change in my perception of the weather has been one of the least expected changes.

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