Ted King’s take on the Scicon Rainbag
They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation. I don’t know who they are, but I balk at that logic.
As someone who entered the sport of cycling in the frigid and snowy Green Mountains of Vermont, cut my teeth throughout New England’s wet and unpredictable springs, and who now races across the globe with no reprieve for a “rain delay” as is common in baseball or car racing, I know a thing or two about riding in less-than-ideal weather. Turns out there is such a thing as bad weather; better yet, there also exists such a thing as being prepared for it.
“Borsa di freddo” translates from Italian literally to bag of cold—or more appropriately, bag for cold. The English parlance among my Anglo-Saxon colleagues is rain bag. But regardless of what it’s called, this sliver of security offers a bit of reassurance going into a potentially cold or wet day.
On the professional level, a bag for each rider sits in every team car behind the race or long day of training camp. At just an arm’s reach from the team mechanic, the bag waits on-call for when the weather turns sour.
When watching rainy races on television—and before the drops are visible on camera—you’ll see a small cadre of riders quickly slip to the back of the peloton to collect appropriate attire for their teammates. Each rider will radio to their team cars the clothing request—a jacket, arm warmers or cycling cap—and the mechanic will dig through each riders’ bag for the clothing. After the subsequent handoff, the rider will pedal into the cold or wet weather coming from all sides to get back to the peloton.
The rain bag is roughly the size of a large shoebox and made of a soft fabric, frequently with two zippered compartments. Some riders keep the bare minimum in their bag, but the sage veteran will effectively keep a spare (or two!) of everything one might need on a long day: shoe covers, leg warmers, knee warmers (maybe even winter tights), an undershirt or two, arm warmers, gloves of all varieties, vests and jackets of different weights, neckgaiters, cycling caps and winter beanies. The middle compartment will store an extra set of shoes. Although it’s uncommon, shoes have been known to break midrace and a quick swap will save the awkward and embarrassing single-shoed riding. Pro tip: Always have extra shoes.
The more likely items to be requested—typically arm warmers and a vest—will be closest to the zipped opening. Again, this is the habit among the wise veterans more than the eager rookies who haphazardly stuff their bags with whatever they think of last minute. The packing technique is certainly noted by the team mechanics who have the duty of rummaging around the bag looking for each riders’ request. Pro tip number two: Always be nice to your mechanic.
And pro tip number three? Embrace the changing weather with a borsa di freddo, rain bag, security blanket, err… security bag. Doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you have one at the ready. You may not be able to change the weather, but you can absolutely prepare for it.
Words by Ted King
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