There are three things a fellow needs to ride his bike every day successfully in Seattle. Wool, more wool, and above all, a good Showers Pass rain jacket.
Well, I suppose there are some other things that somebody might need, but what I’ve found the past few years is that with these three things, I can go out on the bike pretty much every day, in any inclement riding conditions, and while I may get wet and the weather might be cold, I’m not going to be uncomfortable. Some might dispute my choices, but let them ride a few thousand miles in my saddle and then let’s talk.
My love affair with my Showers Pass rain jacket was pretty much immediate from the first time I wore it. It was Christmas 2007. We were going with our bike club down to the Oregon coast for New Year. Mimi had bought one of these jackets for herself earlier in the year. I’d changed jobs in April, making it possible to bike commute pretty much daily, but my old rain jacket was just not very waterproof, and it didn’t breathe very well. She had ordered me one for my Christmas present, but it didn’t arrive in time. She called somebody, telling them we were going out of town (I didn’t even know about it) and when we arrived at our hotel, the desk clerk said to me, "Mr. Boothby, I think we have a package for you."
Now THAT was some gift delivery.
In 2008, I rode 337 days. In 2009, 362 days and in 2010, 364 days, missing only four days in the last two years and haven’t had a day yet in 2011 without riding. In that amount of time, I’ve ridden over 33,000 miles. Most of those miles are in western Washington and riding through the winter, it doesn’t rain every day, but it is almost constantly either very wet or very cold. On January 1, 2010 I rode a 125 mile ride from Olympia to Brinnon, WA passing first north and a few hours later south through Hoodsport. The rainfall that day was 2.5” in Hoodsport. I smiled and played in the rain all day with glee.
What I found with the Showers Pass is that with a single merino wool undergarment, a long sleeve merino wool jersey and my rain jacket, I can ride comfortably down to temperatures of 25 degrees F. Below that, I need another layer of wool. But the nice thing about the Showers Pass is that its wind protection and breathability allow me to wear it over the wool all day, every day and not become cold and clammy, like what used to happen with the other jacket I wore.
Alas, after about 33,000 miles, all the road grime, all the roadside tire changes and emergency maintenance done without removing my coat, all the times being dragged through the mud, and all the just daily beating up that my gear gets has taken its toll. The nice yellow isn’t so nice anymore. It is stained and bedraggled. The rear pocket seams came unglued about 3 months ago. The right Velcro wrist strap is beginning to fall apart (it’s been that way for over 18 months and just never really gets any worse, so I don’t do anything about it) and finally, after all the up and down action, the zipper has finally given up. Like me, it finally lost its grip. It hadn’t lost its water repellent properties though. FANTASTIC!
I have only one article of clothing that I feel any more sentimental about than this jacket, and that is a pair of old beat up wing tips I bought in 1981. I’ve had them resoled and reheeled several times, and now, the leather at the heels is finally starting to collapse. Like my Showers Pass, they’re beginning to fail. Maybe I ought to send them back, too. Clothes just obviously aren’t meant to last. On the other hand, maybe they could fix my rain jacket like they did my shoes.…..