Soggy Bottom Blues

So, I think I might have mentioned it’s been a bit damp recently… well, that weather has continued (we were greeted on Monday by the cheery announcement ‘they say it’s set in for the rest of the week’). So miserable has it been that when we went to the local wetland centre yesterday we found that – if the look of the teal was anything to go by – it isn’t even particularly nice weather for ducks. And today I had two meetings in Bigtown which meant that not only was I going to have to cycle eight miles in the rain, but I was going to have to look fairly presentable when I got there.

This meant pulling out all the stops: apocalypse-proof jacket (whose hood I have managed to make work even on a bike through the deployment of a cunningly placed cord which probably makes me look like basically the biggest dork ever* but does at least mean the hood stays over my head except in the worst headwinds), waterproof trousers, and Leggits (sorry ‘Leggits!’), which did a creditable job of keeping my feet dry. But there is a problem with my waterproof overtrousers – I mean quite apart from the whole thing of them being waterproof overtrousers – which is that they are now not quite waterproof … and they have chosen to fail particularly in the crotch area.

I have been putting off looking for a decent pair of waterproof trousers. Quite apart from the whole trouser shopping thing generally, to go out and spend more than about £5 on them is to cross some sort of a line. On one side of that line lie classic white shirts, slim-cut trousers, trench coats, lambswool v-neck pullovers, flat leather lace-up shoes – the sort of clothes that I imagined myself wearing when I grew up. On the other side of that line are fleeces, vests (oh all right ‘merino base layers’), lobster gloves, wellies and now waterproof overtrousers – the sort of clothes I have somehow, gradually, ended up wearing. I might not wear lycra, but I’d be kidding myself if I thought that my wardrobe was doing the image of cycling any favours.

But what the hell. If I’m going to keep cycling and it’s going to keep raining (and if the forecast is anything to go by it will), it looks like waterproof trousers are the last link in the chain. And they might as well not be rattly navy nylon ones that make me look as if I’ve wet myself. I gather that waterproof trouser technology has moved on in recent years, so if you’ve any suggestions for trousers that won’t let the rain in, won’t rattle, and will allow me to look as much like a normal person as possible when I get off the bike, let me know. I’ll be the one curled up in the corner, whimpering, as I relinquish the last vestige of my sartorial self-image.

* I come from the generation of kids that never ever ever ever put their hood up – the only time your hood was allowed on your head was if you were running around without your arms through the sleeves of your coat, pretending to be batman.


13 Responses to Soggy Bottom Blues

  1. Paul M says:

    Rohan does waterproof breathable trousers in their own version of Gore-Tex but a bit cheaper – still not that cheap but I think they have a sale on at the mo with 30% off so you might find something. Colours tend to be austere – mud, slurry,oil-slick and slime colours predominate – but they work, and I swear by them.

    I pedalled up the lane from the station this evening around 8:00 pm and noticed flashes of light ahead of me. As there was no noise I thought perhaps it was the arcing of the trains’ shoes on the live rail but no, a few minutes after I got home the heavens opened. We got a spectacular son et lumiere. My home weather station (the one linked to the web) gave its highly scientific assessment of the situation – “It’s raining cats n dogs”. The TV signals, both Freesat and Freeview, are breaking up.

    So, you see, you don’t have to be in the Borders to get that sort of weather, it happens in South West Surrey too.

  2. disgruntled says:

    Hmm, well these ones didn’t make me want to kill myself but they’re not that cheap are they?

  3. John Gibson says:

    Bloody hell, a hundred quid. Thats the trouble anything cheap will let the water in sooner or later. I think the only thing that will keep your clothes dry is to cycle without any clothes on.

  4. Jenny says:

    Yes, it’s the downside of smart cycling – all those lovely images of tweedy people in natty sets and baskets on their bike fall apart when one is slightly larger in size (I don’t mean YOU) and you don’t want to go naked or lycra-ed. (Yes, I know it dries, but really.) I am very impressed that you still go out for longish jaunts in the wet. I think it’s the sound of the thighs rubbing in a loud plastic way that really ruins the idea of waterproof pants for me. No point pointing out any sales here, as the postage would take them up to the hundred quid you are talking about.

  5. Flighty says:

    Surely there must be some descent wet weather cycling gear in this day and age. xx

  6. Charles says:

    Go to a large fishing shop like the Glasgow angling centre. Ignore the branded kit it is expensive. Go for the kit aimed at reservoir trout and bank anglers. They can spend all day in the rain and know the value of money. If you start seeing brand names like Symms, walk away now, they will cause wallet failure. ( I know I am an advert for Symms in jacket waders and boots but obsessives are allowed to be obsessive…)

  7. Think outside the box (unless you’re a cat …) and consider a rain cape instead of closer fitting rain gear, such as this natty number from Dutch bike bits:

  8. commuterjohn says:

    Berghaus over trousers. Much thiner, hardly a rattle and look more human/jogger than. …….
    Personaly I wear walking jackets and general breathable wet weather kit on the bike and get on great with it.
    Most bike gear either makes you look like some kind of cycle weirdo or a member of team sky, which is fine if your out on a circular run. But if your like us and use the bike to go from A to B then the team sky look just seems a bit naff in the frozen food aisle at the supermarket or having a quite drink in the pub.

  9. Autolycus says:

    Never mind about trousers in the rain (I can say that in a city where we have lots of buses) – with a title like that, isn’t it time to dust off the ukulele and compose the song to go with it?

  10. Nick says:

    Confessions of a fashion victim? But surely you’ll only be seen by a few sheep (as well as your other half of course), so stop worrying and just enjoy the rain.

  11. It doesn’t really matter what trousers you have. The, ahem, saddle related, pressure and friction will always cause them to fail in a particular area.

    The reinforced kind winter climbers use for sitting on pointy belay rocks might survive, but probably wouldn’t be very comfy.

    So, I suppose, either resign yourself to multiple overtrouser purchases or go with the cape as above (and team it with classic shirt, brogues etc and make like an eccentric laird (lairdy? lairdette?))

  12. disgruntled says:

    Heh, lots of ideas here. I’ve found some reasonably stylish options, but only for mucho money. Perhaps the eccentric Laird look is the best and most achievable option

  13. […] 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 […]

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