Wednesday, May 10, 2017

REI Shopping Trip


I have thunder thighs. Always have. Albeit there have been times when I’ve been thinner (than I am now). But, still, nothing deserving a double XL.

I’m talking here about rain pants.

Last weekend I rode my bike back from Kalamazoo, MI. Yes, that weekend. The one with all the rain and flash flooding. I took along with me some L.L. Bean wind pants that I’d coated with water repellant. And also a pair of PVC rain pants acquired new 30 years ago. During a milky downpour I was amazed at the breathability of the PVC pants. I looked down to see that the seams had opened. ALL the seams. Basically I was riding in rubberized flaps.

I changed into the Bean pants that after 5 minutes stuck to my skin, soaking wet.

Some readers might remember before my JOGLE, riding from the top of the UK to Land’s End, I’d purchased a fairly pricey pair of Showerspass rain pants. These were advertised to be waterproof and breathable—to a point. For instance not when riding a bike, what they were designed to do. I got wetter wearing them than leaving them in my pack. At one point I thought I’d wear them to walk through tall wet grass to the pub and still they gathered condensation inside. Before returning them I shook them out to repack them for mailing and drips of water flew out.

So I went shopping at REI, an exercise in humility. And logic.

Of course people who shop here are active, athletic, or else want to look like it. I lost weight just looking for a sales clerk. I’d picked out a pair of rain pants, again waterproof but I didn’t see any info on breathability. This is expensive nylon, y’all. I saw a jacket for $450 and when I found a salesperson he said let me show you a jacket for $550. Nevermind. And those pants nada, no breathability. He walked away from me.

Which got me thinking: Why sell rain pants that get you wet from the inside but keep you dry from rain? So no disrespect, when I found the guy again I asked this very question. He said for sitting around a campsite on a damp log. My head snapped off—for $75! While I was at it I asked: Why in such dark colors? Black, charcoal gray (basically light black). Cyclists need to be visible, and he said fashion. No one wants neon yellow. It made no sense=these products were being sold in the Bicycling Department.

Then he laid it out for me. Unless I want to pay $400 for Gortex I’m not going to be able to ride my bike without getting wet. Good because I didn’t want to pay a small fortune to sweat in cruise ship-size pants. I tried on one pair, then another, then another. Each another size up. The 3-way mirror told the truth, but how can I be the same size as a 360 pound 7 foot man? How can I manage to walk let alone bike 1,100 miles in 19 days up and down mountains??? A couple I met on my JOGLE even commented: How can someone as small as you do this trip? Well, apparently I’m not that small. Not if I want to sit in a saddle and move my legs comfortably with rain pants on. They need to be roomy enough to fit over my butt and a pair of padded cycling shorts.

In the end I left empty-handed and defeated.

Yes, I have thunder thighs, but they power me up and down hills and through rain and 20 – 30 mph winds.


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