Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Rain Date

This morning started out just as I had hoped - a steady rain and northwest winds gusting up to 35 mph. Bring it on!

No, I don't have water on the brain. I like a warm, sunny day just like the next cyclist. But yesterday I was given the chance to test out a new Gore-tex cycling jacket, and rain is what I needed. A co-worker, Paul, knew I've been looking for some new wet/cold weather cycling gear, so he offered to let me try out his Gore FUSION GT AS jacket. But as I rolled out the driveway earlier today, the skies were looking clearer, and it seemed like things would not go as I had hoped. The last Gore-tex jacket I owned was an early generation, mid-'80s version. Gore-tex back then was still very new in cycling wear, and pretty much anything was better than wearing the usual vinyl (sometimes vented) rain jackets that were the norm. But even the high-tech Gore-tex that so many people raved about, could not vent well enough for someone working up a good sweat on a bicycle. For a walk or hike along in a steady rain, it was fine. But that material just wasn't designed for high-intensity aerobic exercise. Well, at least I had the wind, and could see how it would pass the breathability test.

Just 5 miles into todays ride, a light rain began to fall. Looking good. Another 5 miles later, the rain changed to sleet. Looking better. And a couple minutes, that frozen water was now clumps of snowflakes about the size of nickles! We have ideal test conditions: 100% moisture with cold, blustery winds. I've never been so happy to have such miserable conditions on a bicycle ride!

So how did the jacket fare? Very well, I can honestly say. Eventually, the rain and wet, heavy snow had soaked my gloves and shoe covers completely through. During the last several miles, my fingers were starting to hurt from the cold and wet, and my feet were slowly following close behind in discomfort. My legs remained warm and quite dry, partly due to the great  Pearl Izumi AmFIB riding tights, and partly because the legs just create a lot of heat while cycling hard. But everything everything else remained dry and comfortably warm, without getting overheated or clammy from poor breathing of the fabric.

The wrists and neckline of the jacket closes tightly, so that even when riding directly into a driving rain, nothing leaks through. The jacket is slim cut, so that it doesn't flap in the wind, and the sleeves are cut long enough so that they won't leave you with a nerve-wracking pain in your wrists that cold snow and/or rain can often produce when it hits those sensitive areas. This jacket is well-designed and cut to be worn in the riding position. In short, I believe Gore has winner with this product.