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Rain biking takes a certain mindset

By: Melody Stone Journal staff writer
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What does it take to ride down Highway 49 in pouring rain? An Auburn bike shop manager said it’s the right gear and the right mindset. “Riding in the rain you have to have a good frame of mind,” Curtis Christensen, Bicycle Emporium manager, said. “It’s not pleasurable unless you make it pleasurable.” Christensen, an avid cyclist, said it’s more about the temperature than the amount of rain. If it’s raining and below 40 degrees, Christensen said that’s when he might take his car to work, otherwise he has plenty of gear to keep him moderately dry. Auburn resident John Freed had the right mindset while biking up Highway 49 just outside of Auburn in the pouring rain Friday morning. When asked why he rides in such poor conditions, Freed said he enjoys the exercise. “I have to take my opportunities to work out when I can,” Freed said. “It is a risk to be out here, but I keep a keen eye out for traffic, stay as far right as I can and just keep going.” Christensen said to get fully outfitted for rain cycling costs around $120. He recommended purchasing a highly reflective vest or jacket, preferably something with a mesh back for breathability. The most popular color for jackets is called “screaming yellow,” and is bright and reflective. Christensen also stocks rain slickers designed to keep the rider perfectly dry in a downpour. He said the slickers are “totally impermeable” to the rain. Christensen commutes from Cool to Auburn. Sometimes he takes the mountain trails and sometimes he takes the roads. He said during heavy rain he likes to take the trails so he doesn’t need to worry about cars, but the rain and mud wear down the bicycle. For keeping the legs dry and warm Christensen suggested a pair of biking leggings lined with micro-fleece. He said the material is warm but breathable and it’s what some of the Amgen Tour of California riders wear. “(They’re) really just trying to stay warm,” said Christensen. Victory Velo Bike Shop employee Rick O’Farrel likes cycling but doesn’t do it in the rain. "I don't like being wet and I don't like being cold," O'Farrel said. "You have to have a certain mindset because the bike's going to handle a lot differently in the rain." O’Farrel said it’s important to stay dry and wear layers to protect against both the wind and rain. "As long as you dress in layers than you'll be ok," O’Farrel said. Cyclists also attach fenders to both wheels to keep rain from getting into their shoes and up their backs. Christensen said safety and visibility are very important when riding in the rain. “One or two (flashers-lights) will probably do the job, with a bright colored jacket,” Christensen said. He added how important it is to wear a helmet; it increases visibility and protects the head. “A pea-sized rock can cause permanent damage,” Christensen said.