Tag Archives: rain

Punk’d

When we went to visit my mom for spring break, we brought our rain gear. It rains a lot in Seattle. Unfortunately I lost my rain pants while I was there. That was a bummer—they’re great rain pants—but not a short-term crisis. It rarely rains in San Francisco after February, and never after March. And this is a drought year anyway. I figured that if they didn’t show up by October or so, I’d have to buy new gear, because an El Nino year is on the way. And I had already promised myself that next rainy season, I’d try a Cleverhood, but it wasn’t exactly on the top of my to-do list.

I also assumed that California’s weather system had better things to do than punk me, like empty out the state’s reservoirs. I was wrong.

This morning we woke up to rain. Of course it is welcome, because of the drought, but I was vaguely annoyed about my missing rain pants. Rain in San Francisco is like hills in San Francisco: hard and intense, although it comes and goes. But how bad could it be? I thought, with the casual ignorance of someone who has not gone outside in suspicious weather without wearing full rain gear since 2011.

Really, really bad, it turns out. By the time we’d gone a few blocks, my pants were soaked. By the time we hit the Panhandle, they had dripped an inch of water into each of my rain boots. And because the boots are waterproof, all that water just stayed there. By the time we dropped off our son, I was shivering. When I finally got to work, I had to empty my boots into the kitchen sink.

There will be no pictures with this post. I look like I was fished from a pond, and I’m walking around the office barefoot. I am just grateful that typically only one other person works in the office on Fridays.

When people say there is no bad weather, only bad gear, they are basically right. Until today I’ve loved riding in the rain. Super-cautious drivers, empty streets, respect or actual awe from my coworkers: what’s not to like? Having good gear is like having the right bike. It makes everything easier. With the Bullitt’s rain cover, the kids have never had complaints about riding in the rain either.

But without it, misery is never far away. This morning as I was sloshing through the halls, I thought, “This sucks. Maybe we should buy a golf cart.” This is the route to madness! I should buy some new rain gear. Preferably before 5pm. If only Instacart delivered clothing.

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Filed under commuting, San Francisco, Uncategorized

You can’t win them all: 2012 Holiday Lights Ride

Last night we headed out on for the 2012 San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Holiday Lights Ride. We loved this ride in 2011. And we were feeling pretty good, as we were lighted up like Christmas trees. Literally. We’d picked up some light strings at Ikea on the way back from a Hanukkah party for $2 apiece. We’re hard to miss these days.

Light strings, dynamo front and tail lights, reflective sidewall tires and jackets: we like visibility.

Light strings, dynamo front and tail lights, reflective sidewall tires and jackets: we like visibility.

For the first time, we also set up the Bullitt with the Roland add+bike trailer bike. We may be one less minivan, but with that setup we’re almost as long as a minivan. But our son was really excited that he’d get to pedal on this ride without risking falling behind. He has complained about boredom when he’s riding as a passenger.  Our daughter was thrilled that she’d have room as the sole occupant of the box to stretch out and take a nap.

Even with our efforts to pack her in under a rain skirt, our preschooler was not enjoying this ride on the Bullitt.

Even with our efforts to pack her in under a rain skirt, our preschooler was not enjoying this ride on the Bullitt.

When we rolled outside, however, we realized that in the time it took to set up the kids and the bikes, it had started raining hard. Even with excellent rain gear, having rain driving into our faces was making us and the kids miserable. We headed over to the Panhandle statue anyway, figuring that we’d at least get a brief trip on the trailer-bike in for fun. Astonishingly, the ride was not called for rain. However instead of the hundreds of riders who’d showed up last year, there were maybe a dozen people.

The bedraggled riders slosh home.

American Gothic, in which the bedraggled riders decide discretion is the better part of valor and slosh home.

We didn’t make it far on that ride. Our son had rain pants, but had decided against boots, and although he was really enjoying pedaling he complained that his shoes were filled with water. We weren’t doing much better. When the ride headed into Golden Gate Park, we headed back up the hill toward home. We dried them off and took them out for udon noodles across the street as an apology. By then it had mostly stopped raining. Better luck next year.

Our son was actually so thrilled to be on the Roland trailer-bike he was willing to gut it out longer than anyone.

Our son was actually so thrilled to be on the Roland trailer-bike he was willing to gut it out longer than anyone.

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Filed under Bullitt, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Bicycles of note

My sister's Jamis

On Saturday I went out with my sister while my in-laws took our kids out for crafts and Matt went to a business event at Berkeley. Thunderstorms were in the forecast and Matt was heading for the bridge anyway, so he dropped me off on the way. But with no rain coming down at that moment, we decided to ride. What the hey, if the weather changes, that’s why we have rain gear.

I love to take the bike South of Market where she lives; it is flat as far as the eye can see. I’m not the only one; when we arrived at the restaurant for breakfast at 9:00am, not exactly the brunch rush hour in her hipster-rich hood, we had to take the second bike rack because the first one was already full.

We had hoped to stay out longer but the wind eventually became unbearable. “I hate the wind even more than I hate the hills,” my sister said. We are alike in many ways.

On the way back while we were stopped at a light, a pedestrian stopped in the crosswalk. “Wait a minute!”he yelled. “You’re on bikes! And you’re stopped at a red light? Thank you!” Sigh.

So we went back to her condo and she showed me some excruciatingly painful ways to get rid of muscle knots by applying pressure with a lacrosse ball while her dog jumped on me. Very effective (the dog is optional) but I’m not sure I’m enough of a masochist to ever do it again. Because my sister is more hard core than I will ever be, she has long since moved on to using a length of metal pipe.

This is an electric bike?

I managed to endanger the community while we were still out, however. Now that I try to stop and take pictures of the interesting things I see, I have become a hazard to everything on wheels. When I slowed to check out an odd-looking bike in the window of a computer store, I knocked my sister into the groove of a Muni track, at which point she understandably fell down. Since we were stopped at that point anyway, we decided to get a closer look. It was a single-speed with an extremely unobtrusive electric assist from Clean Republic. The motor on the front wheel looked more like a hub dynamo for lights. But the bike had no lights and a cord trailing off of a small bag under the seatpost labeled “Clean Republic.”  The store was closed, alas, and the owner was nowhere in sight, so all I know about that electric assist system is: it’s subtle.

Having learned from this experience, I did not attempt to take pictures of:

  • A black Yuba Mundo with a kid on the back holding a large propane tank
  • A Brompton (“That’s a cool bike!” according to the pedestrians walking by)

One of these things does not quite belong

I did, however, get a lot of pictures inside the world’s most democratic bike store. Even I have heard of Seven Cycles. This shop had one hanging out (slumming?) with a Cannondale and a Giant. I thought we were visiting because my sister needed something, but it turned out we were there because she wanted me to write about the place. Sure, why not?

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Filed under electric assist, folding bicycle, San Francisco, Yuba Mundo

Riding in the rain

On the road and all is well again

This week and next it’s all about the rain here in San Francisco (and after that, I’m going out of town). I’ve written before that I like riding in the rain, and this is true. I’ve realized, though, that I don’t like getting ready to ride in the rain. There are so many more accessories to worry about.

In the morning I put on the rain jacket, the rain pants, and the rain boots, and put my work shoes into the pannier inside a plastic bag. Then I put the waterproof cover on the pannier. Yesterday when I got outside I realized that my keys were inside the pannier, so I had to take off the waterproof cover, fish out my keys, lock the door, put them back in the pannier, and replace the waterproof cover on the (now wet) pannier.

When I get to work I take off the waterproof cover on the pannier, then the rain jacket, the rain pants, and the rain boots and hang everything up to dry. Then dig my work shoes out of the plastic bag and put them on.  Criminy, what a hassle. Thankfully the university has covered bike parking on all campuses, so there’s no need to cover the seat.

My son wears his rain pants all day, but he doesn’t work at a medical center. Also his rain pants have cool cartoon dinosaurs on them (my mom made them). Elementary school is the life! I might be able to get away with cartoon dinosaurs if I were at the medical center; I could pretend that they were a new kind of scrubs. But women’s rain pants only seem to come in solids. Whose idea was that?

Golden Gate Park is beautiful in any weather

It is often worth it once I’m on the bike, however, because I don’t really have to slow down much, and cars do, so relatively speaking, I feel like I’ve gained bionic powers. It does not feel worth it when it is both windy and raining and I have to shift down to first gear on a flat street, because I am being blown backwards and I can’t see anything.

But when I get to work and am finally rearranged, there is, at last, victory, because on really rainy days, the only dry people in the office are the bike commuters. The drivers and shuttle bus riders get drenched walking from the parking lot to the office.  Back before I started riding my bike I hated the rain because I was always getting soaked; just walking to the shuttle stop would fill my shoes with water. Now the rainy season is a hassle, but not much more. I never thought to buy real rain gear until I started riding my bike, but now I wear it even on the walk up to preschool. And it makes all the difference.

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Filed under commuting, San Francisco