We got caught in the rain on Sunday's long bike ride, again. For those of you not familiar with mountain rains, they are cold. It is no fun to be riding in the mountains, particularly descending a big hill, in a summer rain/hail/snow storm. You can get cold, fast.
I don't mind being in the cold, I just hate being cold. A couple of weeks ago we did a big loop from Loveland to Lyons, Allenspark, then Estes Park and ending back in Loveland. For this 90-mile loop, we saw rain for roughly half of it. Some hail, but not too bad.
Sunday, we rode about 75 miles that included 4,500 feet of climbing and two efforts around the 8,000 ft. mark. The people that made it back to Loveland didn't see any hail, but the Ft. Collins people saw hail. Thankfully, everyone made it home safe and sound.
On the equipment side, I had three pieces of gear that made the difference for me. First, is the best waterproof jacket I've had in years. The waterproof jackets I've had in the past have been big and bulky to carry (especially in small or medium jersey pockets) and they make you feel like you're riding in a sauna when going uphill. If they have been extremely light, then they don't keep me warm enough and they don't shed the water as well. I used the Octane jacket I got this year on both rides and I can't be happier. No sauna-effect when riding uphill, it kept me dry and it kept me warm on the descents.
An added feature of this jacket is the removable hood. I hate cold rain running down my neck, making an already miserable day worse. The hood keeps the wind and wet off of your head and no water runs down the back of your neck. Nice.
The second piece of gear I carried was a pair of gloves that I wore this winter, but made a last minute decision to carry them when I walked out the door. If you can't keep your core and your hands warm, you won't be controlling the bike. My hands get cold pretty fast and these glove were great.
The final item that made a huge difference for me was a pair of vented sunglasses. I wear contact lenses, so protecting my sight in wet and muddy conditions is critical. On numerous rides, both on and off-road, I've had to remove glasses because they were too dark or they fogged up. Annoying, really annoying.
Last winter I ordered a new pair of sunglasses from Oakley and hoped they would solve my problems. I didn't wear them for the first rain ride and I had vision problems. There was so much lens fog on the inside of the yellow lenses and rainy road goop on the front that I had to take my sunglasses off and just squint. Not good. I've had these problems before.
I wore them Sunday and I'm happy to report no fog and (though I admit I was really skeptical about the so-called hydrophobic water, oil, etc. shedding lenses) they really did shed the rain splash back from cars and other cyclists. The lens was also good in both sunny and low-light conditions. I went with the RADAR model, PITCH Black Iridium Vented.
It makes me really happy when my investment yields outstanding returns.