Canning, composting, various types of fruit picking and chicken raising. Also canoeing and floating through the middle of downtown Portland on the Willamette. I have checked these Portland things off my list and I’m ready to add one more to my Portlandia residency application — bike commuting in the dark, in the rain.

I’ve never ridden in the dark and in the rain before. Mainly because I think it’s really dangerous. But yesterday I couldn’t even consider sitting in my car and listening to NPR on the way to and from work. The thought of listening to people fill airtime for hours until an election result was called was just too much. So I decided to bike commute.

I would also really, really like to bike commute year round. Many cyclists in Portland do it. I love riding my bike, and I love bike commuting, but I hadn’t yet braved the night and rain.

It’s getting dark here at 4:45pm. Dark, dark. Night time. Last night I wasn’t expecting drizzle, but around 4:30 it started. I headed out at 5pm and was soggy within a few blocks. I hadn’t anticipated rain, so hadn’t worn anything rain appropriate. Damp denim is hard to ride in — pro tip!

Things I didn’t like about riding in the rain and dark: you can’t see the road. My route home is all about bike boulevards, which are these fantastic streets that are intended as bike thoroughfares, and cars are secondary vehicles. They’re wonderful, but some aren’t lit. Also there are leaves coating the streets. I rode much slower on these streets because I couldn’t see bumps or potholes in the road.

The rain isn’t as big of a deal to me. I have rain pants that I can wear, and I have a rain jacket, but it’s black, so I’ll need some sort of reflective vest.

The cars were far more polite and watchful than I’ve noticed on my bike commute home during the summer. With everyone wanting to get home and enjoy the light, drivers are far more aggressive. Last night, far more cars yielded to me.

I think I’m ready to bike commute during these shorter days, but I also think I need a better rain jacket. I’m having a look around for a solid cycling rain jacket, but not really sure what’s a good value. I am not spending $250 out of the gate. Suggestions are welcome in comments.

Once I get a better jacket, I think I’m ready to join the ranks of Portland year-round commuters. I hope.

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