Field work in the rain

One of the drivers for wanting a change in career direction has been the desire to be more environmentally friendly. I was aware that time spent sat in traffic on my way to and from clients was consuming fossil fuels and adding to pollution. Whereas what I would like to do would be to cycle to and from work, thus getting fit and saving the world at the same time.

Therefore, over the last couple of months, I have tried to minimise the use of the car. If I wanted to travel anywhere within the Oxford ring road then I would cycle. If I needed to go out to Wytham Woods then I would cycle. All this has been fine over the summer so far, I have been lucky with the weather. Yesterday rain was forecast but it started off dry, so I was able to cycle out to Wytham, do what I needed to do and it was only when I came to cycle home that it started to rain, which was OK.

Today however, it was the other way around. It was raining this morning and forecast to clear up later. I must admit that for a while I was tempted to just drive out to Wytham. But my resolve stirred and I decided to cycle out to Wytham, despite the rain.

Now I get quite hot when cycling and I knew that if I put waterproof top and trousers on then I was going to sweat heavily inside them. So I put a windshirt over my Helly Hansen base layer, and put my waterproof trousers over a lightweight pair of trousers. When I set out it was drizzling gently, but less than half way there the rain started to come down harder. I made it to the field station at Wytham but my upper body was soaking, where the water had come through the windshirt. I was, however, warm from the exertion of cycling and not chilled by the wind, thanks to the windshirt. Because it was raining harder I put on my waterproof jacket for the cycle up to the research site.

Once inside the wood I was a bit sheltered from the rain but still got dripped on constantly.

After a couple of hours in the woods I was starting to get cold. My base layer was still wet from the cycle out there and I was not generating any more heat myself. So I put a T shirt over the baselayer, under the waterproof jacket, while I finished off the remaining tasks. By the time I was ready to cycle back to the field station it had stopped raining, so I swapped the waterproof jacket for the windshirt. A quick tidy up at the field station and it was time to head home. I probably could have done more things in the woods, but my feet were soaking wet and cold, and I was still a bit chilled.

During the ride home it stopped raining completely and I was able to take off the windshirt and the waterproof trousers, but I was still soggy round the edges when I got home.

The challenge

What I need are some magic garments. They must be waterproof to keep me dry on the bike, but breathable enough that I don’t sweat too much on the inside. Then they need to be tough enough to survive the brambles and thorns in the woods. And then they need to keep me warm when I am just standing around, or at least work with layering options so I can stay warm.

Answers on a post card please.

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