Maybe you paid for the ride in advance. Maybe it just so happens that mother nature decides to dump on your one window of opportunity to ride all week. Whatever, it’s 40 and raining and you’re going to get on that horse and ride it. Here is what I wear in these conditions:
1, 2: Base Layers
Since you will be using a good outer shell or two you can go a little light on the base layers. I choose a heavy (though not fleece lined) long-sleeved Under Armor shirt and a regular short sleeved jersey. Should the clouds break you’ll appreciate being able to let your arms breathe a little if you remove your outer jacket.
3: Winter Vest
A good windproof, fleece lined vest is an important layer because it won’t be too warm under a rain jacket BUT will be warm enough if the rain subsides.
4: Rain Jacket
When its cold enough that its almost snowing you don’t need to bother with gore-tex or anything super high-zoot, but you should consider something cycling-specific. The Capo pictured has a little ventilation under the arms, has an extended back side and most importantly, is clear so your club kit shows through!
5,6: Windproof tights, Bibs
Even when wet your leg muscles are going to generate plenty of heat. Rainproof pants will be too much for a training ride–stick with two layers of good lycra and you’ll be fine. Avoid thicker fleece as that will just soak up water.
7,8,9: Shoes, wool socks, rainproof shoe covers
I probably shouldn’t have grouped these together but I did. Here is the bottom line: Unless you have rain-specific gore-tex-lined shoes you’re going to get wet so you might as well prepare for it. The Perl Izumi Barrier Pro shoe covers pictured lasted about 50 minutes in a steady drizzle before I could feel that the dampness was more rain than sweat, which brings me to the second point:
Use the right weight of WOOL sock. Too light and you’ll get cold. Too heavy and your feet will feel like they are wringing out sponges with every pedal stroke. You just want a little light insulation. Wool, as you know, will keep you warm even when wet.
10: Cold Water Scuba Diving Gloves
Following the same theme as the shoes you should also know that your hands are going to get wet as well. Bummer. Lucky for you they can remain comfortable. I have an entire writeup on the use of cold water diving gloves for cycling use. They’re pretty good and really the only thing that will work. I just took these babies out for 2.5 hours of non-stop rain and only had wrinkly fingertips as a result.
11, 12: Helmet, cycling cap
I like using a cycling cap in the rain as it helps to keep the rain out of my eyes. Glasses are utterly useless so I leave those at home.
PRO TIP: DRY OUT YOUR SHOES QUICKLY UPON RETURNING. Use a space heater or a hair dryer. Once you start growing stuff in your shoes you will NEVER get the smell out. Believe me. The shoes pictured have been washed, bleached, soaked in baking soda, and more. The faint smell of wrong still lingers.