Theory and Practice: The Rain Cape

rain cape

If you’re an outdoor person, you’ve probably spent more time than you care to searching for the perfect piece of equipment.   You’ve probably considered all the circumstances you would use said equipment under, looked at what’s available, and then imagined how you’d modify or build your own gear to suit the need.  Of course your creation would be wonderful because it would fit the bill perfectly.

I imagined just such a piece of equipment that would keep me dry as I ride my bike to work in the rain.  It would be lightweight, waterproof, and wouldn’t make me overheat.  I imagined some kind of windscreen that would wrap around my arms and torso, keeping my feet and legs dry: sort of a giant poncho.  And sure enough thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found that someone had already created my invention!  It is known as a rain cape- but it was uncertain if the darn thing actually worked.  A picture is like a theory: until you try it out, you just don’t know.

My bike mechanic told me I was crazy to put something over the handlebars of a bicycle.  It still sounded like a good idea to me (how else would my legs stay dry?) but his admonition gave me pause.  Portland is a bikey town, but I’d never seen anyone here wearing one and no bicycle shops in town seemed to promote them.  I was intrigued, but I wasn’t willing to make a $100 bet on a mail order model, so the whole concept stopped there.

That is, until I discovered that Andy Bike had a rain cape, though I never saw him wear it.   With just a moment’s hesitation I inquired, “So, does it work?”

“Well, it works, but it’s kinda awkward,” Bike replied, “and you look ridiculous when you wear it.”

I soon found out he was right about the latter statement, but it didn’t deter me from borrowing the banana-yellow cape.   The next day I was riding to work when I felt a tiny bit of precipitation on my cheek, I stopped and excitedly put on the cape.

Riding along in the early morning mist I felt larger, and well, drier, like a motor vehicle.  I was secretly hoping that automobile drivers were noticing me and thinking how smart I must look in this unusually efficient and comfortable get up.  I beamed with happiness.  “Bring on the rain!” I shouted to no one in particular.

An afternoon downpour was a welcome excuse for me to bike to a meeting instead of going by car.  The cape hugged my handle bars and with clever little straps, it didn’t come flying off in the wind.  Because it was open on the bottom, unlike traditional, snug fitting rain gear, I didn’t get overheated.  Everything was working admirably and very much according to my vision (as long as I didn’t wish to signal when turning since my arms were trapped under the cape).

The cape was a little clunky, somewhat practical and a little absurd.  Nevertheless, I liked it.  After about five miles of riding my shins and feet were damp, but I was still feeling like a four year old flying to the moon in a refrigerator-box rocket.   Unable to wave, I smiled at more cars and hoped that it would rain even harder.

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3 responses to “Theory and Practice: The Rain Cape

  1. Seeing that picture of you wearing the cape… I now realize that it looks as goofy as I feel wearing it.

  2. Bruce – re your comment on Doryman’s blog, even though we live near very different cruising areas we have something in common – too much rain!! Max

    • That’s for sure! Sitting around all day today thinking about drier times ahead. Been working on a reefing system in my basement for the Row Bird. Details later.

      -Bruce