This Just In: Water Is Wet

Well, Rivendell Week has come to a premature end. This is because the forecast called for rain today, and so I rode my rain bike instead:

[That may look like a bad fender line, but it’s actually set up like that because wind tunnel tests have revealed it’s more aero.]

It was still dry when I headed out, but the sky was ominous, and so I figured I’d just head down to Central Park and ride around in circles until the rain started. After a couple of laps a light drizzle began to fall, at which point I withdrew the Ortovox Civetta rain jacket from my jersey pocket. By the time I left the park, it was raining steadily, but my upper half was dry and comfortable–mostly thanks to the jacket, though let’s not dismiss the water-repelling qualities of the beard:

See how the water beads off the mess that has attacked my face?

And yes, I do realize that with the hood on, my face looks like a raccoon rummaging around in a Hefty bag, or like a bird built a nest in there.

Alas, while my torso may have been toasty, I can’t say the same for my woefully under-attired lower half:

Shoe covers would have been a good idea. Also, I just remembered I have those winter boots, but I’m not yet ready for them mentally.

Riding home from Central Park in the rain gave me ample opportunity to test the jacket–including the hood, which I wore the whole time. I’m pleased to report that the hood did not interfere with my peripheral vision when looking forward. However, when I turned my head to look behind me (which you have to do constantly when you’re riding in Manhattan) the hood did block my view. Fortunately, I was able to mitigate this by tucking the edge of the hood behind my ear like you might do if you had long hair, thus permitting me to glance over my shoulder when necessary. Of course, your results may vary depending on the size and firmness of your ear. Regardless, I don’t think there’s any hooded garment that doesn’t interfere with your vision at least a little bit when you’re riding a bike, and of the various hooded rain jackets I’ve had over the years this one is probably the best in that regard. Anyway, I doubt too many people even attempt to use hoods while riding anymore, thanks to the ubiquity of the bicycle helmet:

[Always wear your helmet, kids!]

So to sum up my findings thus far, the Ortovox Civetta:

  • Fits in a jersey pocket (in fact I even had room for a mini pump in the same pocket)
  • Keeps you warm and dry without making you feel all hot and funky like non-breathable rain jackets do
  • Has a hood that doesn’t totally blind you while you’re riding
  • Generally has a good on-the-bike fit
  • Is overall a nice-looking garment

Granted, all that doesn’t come cheap–in fact it costs $315–but we’re all grown-ups here and able to decide for ourselves what’s worth our money and what’s not. And if you don’t want it, all it cost you was having to look at my wet beard. (Which, to be fair, maybe you’d pay $315 to unsee. And if you’re willing to pay me to shave it feel free to make an offer.)

In other major news, recently I mentioned my WorkCycles:

Which is equipped with hydraulic rim brakes, or “hydrolic ryme breaks” in Craigslist classified spelling:

On one hand, hydraulic rim brakes are uniquely pointless, having all the negatives of hydraulic disc brakes (dealing with fluid) and none of the advantages (consistent all-weather braking). On the other hand, they do make sense on a bicycle like this, since you can let it sit outside day in and day out without having to worry about rusting cables and seized calipers. Also, they allow you to use a wide range of hubs. (Keep in mind that, until recently, the sorts of hubs you’d spec on a bike like this weren’t typically disc-compatible.)

Anyway, having said all that, you see my son’s little mitt on the handlebar in this photo?

Well, he also likes to hold the brake cable instead of the handlebar, which I always remind him not to do. Nevertheless, yesterday, as we were heading out for a ride, he did just that, and the cable started spewing brake fluid like a severed artery:

This left me with only one remaining functional brake, and a renewed distaste for fluid-based braking systems.

Then again, perhaps the problem isn’t with hydraulic brakes. Perhaps they’re actually quite good, and the problem is in fact lazy people who neglect their bikes for five years.

Hey, anything’s possible.

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