Spring Rain And Tights


Jul 25, 2004
I'm in a bit of a panic here, and the internet is oddly not helping much.

I'm riding in a Gran Fondo on Saturday. Even though it's in the mountains, it's usually fairly hot up there in June.

So this time, it's not only going to be raining (perhaps heavily), it's going to be high-50s/low 60s. So not cold, but not warm either. Add the rain and the mountain downhills and I'm worried that this could be a miserable ride. FYI, I've never ridden in the rain.

Most of the info on the internet is riding in the rain and cold, where you absolutely must stay dry or risk hypothermia. But this is kind of in-between.

Right now, I have a not-quite-windbreaker/shell jacket (so it's fairly light, but has a mesh lining and is not cycling specific) that I'm fairly sure is pretty much water resistant (no hood). I've heard you can wear a ball-cap under your helmet to help keep your glasses a little clearer, and that you can use dish soap as a kind of poor-man's rainX to keep the water from beading.

My bigger concern is with the legs. I have middle-weight cycling tights, but they're not waterproof (Nashbar brand). Should I wear them? I can ditch them at the first aid station if need be, but I'm more concerned about if they're going to be counter-productive to staying warm enough when they get wet.

Do I need to make an emergency run to my LBS and get something waterproof? I worry, though, that waterproof could be too warm on the climbs (it's 44 miles with 4800 feet of climbing).
I have ridden plenty of cold and rainy miles, more than a few saturated centuries. Waterproof gear on a vigorous ride will just make you wet from the inside. Don't worry about waterproofing the legs, wear the tights.

Get some good thick wool socks, or neoprene socks and/or booties to keep your feet as warm as possible. Full finger gloves, waterproof is not necessary.

As long as you are working you will stay warm. Don't make your stops too long, descents may be a problem.
I like clothes with (more) wind-/waterproof panels at the front for poor weather riding. They often offer a good compromise between not overheating and not freezing stiff when you're riding hard in changing conditions.
And since I have special skills WRT getting cold hands and feet I'll happily use neoprene gloves, neoprene socks, booties and/or even my winter shoes.
Too late for you now, but there is a garment called "rainlegs" kinda like chaps for cyclists, which is quite handy.
"Don't worry about waterproofing the legs, wear the tights."


ANY tight will work at 50-60 degrees. Roll them up and stuff them in a jersey pocket when/if you start getting too warm. The legs are working hard and circulating lots of blood. They'll be the last thing to get cold. Concern yourself more with having a decent rain jacket to keep your upper body half dry and warm.

As Maydog suggested, a light pair of long fingered gloves may also be a good idea to stash in your jersey. El cheapos can be ditched in the trash.

If storage space is a concern, take a pair of leg warmers instead of tights.

In constant, heavy rain your feet ARE going to get soaked. Do the wool sock thing or carry a set of spare socks in a baggie. I've never had good results with bagging my feet, but securing a plastic bag with a rubber band around your ankle will keep your feet drier for a few miles. You'll sweat more inside the bag and eventually enough water runs down your calf and through the creases in the bag at the rubber band and you end up with wet feet anyway. Wear your shoe covers with out without the bags.
I'd take a slightly different approach. I'd wear a light vest along with some knee and arm warmers. You're going to get wet, even the best in cycling gear is not going to keep you dry in the rain over a Gran Fondo, and if it does, you're going to soak yourself from within. The legs, as Campy stated are the last thing to get cold. I'd bring along the knee warmers and wear them if it was raining, skip it if it were dry and don/doff as needed. The vest and warmers can easy be stowed in a jersey pocket. In those mid-range weather conditions, flexibility is the key.
As much as I hate my translucent plastic rain jacket, it's the easiest thing to stuff that still keeps my upper body 'almost' dry. But lordy do you sweat inside those things. I agree that if warm enough air temps permit, a vest is far easier to ride in. You won't steam yourself to death, at least.