I may look like a food colored version of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but I don’t want to get wet on the upcoming South From Alaska trip. Rain, plus cooler temperatures, do not for a comfortable bike ride make, so I am taking a few precautions to mitigate the effects of both.
On the ride last year I purchased a putty colored Frogg-Togg Ultra-Lite 2 rain suit that worked very well, but was way too large for me. It protected me from the rain, provided additional warmth, was reasonably flexible, was not cost prohibitive, and was easy to fold up and store in the included bag.This year I am taking the same style rain suit in a bright yellow color. The first suit is still in great condition but I wanted a smaller size and more visibility.
The rain suit and storage bag weigh 11.6 ounces. The suit is made from a dual laminated non-woven polypropylene ( now that is a mouthful) and breathes fairly well. That doesn’t mean that sweat won’t build up on the inside, but not nearly so much as some of the heavier rain suits. The sizes seem to run a little large, for instance, I have worn an XL in most rain suits but in Frogg Toggs I use a LG. The large size still has room for additional warm clothing to be worn if necessary. This is a lightweight suit, and there are no pockets or front zipper when nature calls. The pants have open bottoms instead of elastic. Some people have called the pants ‘baggy’, but for me, pedaling on a bicycle, they work fine.
To restrain the pants legs and prevent them from interfering with the chain or front gears I made 4 garters from 1″ wide elastic with Velcro tabs sewed to each end: 0.9 ounces. Two of the garters go around my ankles and two at the top of my calves. Even with these garters, there was still a grease mark on the right pant leg from the chain.
I decided to make a pair of ‘mitts’ from the pants legs of the first Frogg Togg suit. Why mitts, you might ask. The material is very light weight, breathable, waterproof, and provides an additional measure of warmth. Plus a regular pair of glove liners fit inside them if more warmth is needed. Lance Marshall was nice enough to post a set of plans on the internet. A little cutting, a little sewing, and some liquid tent waterproofing painted on the inside seams and wallah, a lightweight pair of mitts. The best part? They worked just fine and weigh under 1 ounce. The rain suit arms, with their elastic wrist bands, cover the top of the mitts which helps minimize leakage. Ah, but how long will they last? That is a good question.
To keep my feet dry and somewhat warmer I ended up getting a pair of Endura Luminite shoe covers. I wear a size 11 shoe and needed the extra-large size. The shoes are snug and require some pull and tug to stretch them over my Shimano mountain bike shoes. The Velcro closure straps hold them in place quite nicely and the bottom provides sufficient clearance for engaging the SPD pedal clips. The top of the shoe covers are high enough to fit under the Frogg Togg pants legs. These shoe covers weight in at 4 ounces.
I don’t mind Ridin’ in the Rain, to paraphrase Gene Kelly, but I don’t want to get soppin’ wet when I do it, nor do I want to be cold. Call me paranoid if you want, but this trip through Alaska and Canada presents the real possibility of serious rain. After the test ride in a recent gully washer my 17.2 ounces of rain gear served its purpose.