As with everything I review on this blog, despite dropping numerous hints, no bugger ever offers to send me their cycle goodies to review so as usual this was a gift from a generous and long-suffering relative (Hello, Mum) rather than a freebie like the real bike bloggers get. Just so as you know. *ahem*
If I’m honest, I was rather hoping I’d never need to test my new rain skirt. What I was really hoping would happen was that the rain skirt would invoke the power of Sod’s law to keep the rain at bay so I’d never get a chance to try it out, something I probably could have lived with if I really had to. But Sod’s law doesn’t really work that way, especially when the weather gods have some catching up to do, so today dawned blowing a gale and graduated to blowing a gale AND raining sideways and after I’d put it off as long as I could I realised that this was in fact my chance to give the Rain Wrap the test of its life. It claimed it worked in windy weather and it wasn’t realistically going to get much windier or rainier than this.
The first challenge was putting it on. Wrapping it around my waist was one thing – I could pretty much manage that – but there is also an additional garter which comes with its own video (go on boys, you know you want to) which yokes the back and the front of the skirt together by way of one leg.
Once on, there was the matter of how I looked – in the video, the girls all look very sleek and urban in them, but then they’re not teaming their rainwraps with clumpy boots and trousers you can shoot things in, topped off with a tweed cap; I did not stop to check in a mirror, but I’m guessing the effect was less ‘cycle chic’ and more ‘half-heartedly cross-dressing farmer’. However, as I think we’ve established, once you have chosen to get on your bike and ride five and a half miles through a gale, what people think of your outfit is the least of your problems (as it was the comment in the shop was ‘well … at least you’re dressed for it’ – and this from someone head-to-toe in tweed). I’m also not 100% sure whether I’d like to walk into, say, a pub and just whip my skirt off in public, especially if I’ve got to fiddle with a garter too – you never know when someone might mistake you for a novelty stripper act (‘farmergram’, anyone?)
I can report that it does work perfectly well with a crossbar bike – at least once you have mastered getting your leg over (anyone sniggering at the back can just go and watch the garter video again). The skirt drapes itself over the crossbar and the elastic does serve to keep it mostly in place although if you’re stupid enough to pedal into a massive headwind then it will tend to flap up a bit on the non-gartered leg. And even though my bike has no skirt guard or chain guard, there was no danger of it getting caught up in anything as the crossbar keeps the skirt well out of the way of the chain or the wheels. I should add that for the first time ever, I was brought to a standstill in a headwind on the steepest hill and had to get off and push – I’m not sure if I can blame that on the skirt, but it’s certainly not very aero. Conversely, once I had a massive tailwind on the way home, I did wonder what would happen if I stood up and see if the skirt would act as a spinnaker but in the end my nerve failed me as by then I was already going faster than I thought my brakes would reasonably handle…
Most importantly, however, it kept me dry, without making me sweaty like normal waterproof trousers (and nor did it fail in the crotch which makes it a win already). Teamed with the leggits and possibly slimmer jeans (or even an actual non-rain skirt, although let’s not go mad here) you could turn up after a wet ride looking reasonably human without a change of clothes. Given how much you’d pay for decent-looking waterproof trousers, the price is not unreasonable, especially if you can arm twist your Mum into buying them for you (other relatives are available). And most amazingly of all, it successfully got me into a skirt, something I haven’t worn since – er – whenever the last time I went to a funeral was. And nobody even had to die…