Monday, August 25, 2008

Wet vs. Sweat

I have rain gear. Good stuff. Marmot pants, a Cannondale jacket, the kind of stuff that will keep you dry under most conditions. But this summer I made what was, for me, a radical realization. In the summertime, when it rains, I don't want to stay dry. I want to get wet. Wet is nice. Wet is cooling. Wet is (somewhat) clean.

If it's pouring rain and I put on my rain gear and ride home, it's like jogging through an 8 mile long steam room wearing a garbage bag. I arrive home just as wet and ten times as stinky. Then I have to wash my rain gear, because it's nasty from the inside out.

So now I ride out into the rain in shorts and a t-shirt. When you're expecting to get wet, getting wet isn't at all unpleasant. It can actually be quite fun. The only catch is you have to have a pair of designated rain shoes, shoes you don't mind soaking, packing with newspaper and then soaking again. Mine double as law mowing sneakers.

Another thing to consider is your head, that knobby bit on top of your shoulders. On rainy days I like to wear a cycling cap under my helmet. I pull the brim down over my eyes, and that keeps my clear glasses from getting all rain-dappled, like the TV camera in center field during a rain delay. I hate not wearing glasses. In the city, no glasses usually means picking small rocks out of your eyeballs, especially if you run up on the bus, which I always do.

So my new rule is, no rain gear unless it's under 50F degrees. Cycling cap. Clear glasses. And a wet attitude. Remember when you were a kid and you wondered what it would be like to walk through the car wash (I always did). That's how a good summer rain is in the city. It's like a car wash. Water falling on you. Water spraying up on you. Cabs and cars splashing you from the sides.

Of course, this is all much more pleasant if you're riding home, rather than to work, where trying to de-soggify yourself in a bathroom stall is always less than effective and often serves to frighten your co-workers. I've thought of getting one of those little chamois towels Olympic divers use, but thus far I've made do with paper towels and a lingering moistness. It helps that the people I work with have come to expect me to look like a slob and smell kinda funny.

I'd be curious to hear how the Cyclosaur deals with rain out there on the West Coast. He probably dons a wet suit and some hemp footwear, tosses back a wheat grass juice and then takes the bus.

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