Spring-like, 60 degree days in February and March are absolutely beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the sunlight, though, the weather can turn from snow to rain quickly and destroy your day if you are caught unprepared. Learn from my experience: The coldest I’ve ever been was in March, biking in great weather, until a nonstop sleet storm hit me hard in my shorts and a cotton sweatshirt.
The simplest advice I can give is to always pack an outer waterproof layer. Shells or windbreakers are necessary if there is even a chance of precipitation. Shove it in the bottom of your pack and forget about it. It’s not that heavy and the comfort/survival factor it gives on a windy, rainy ridge is well worth the extra pound. Forty-five degrees feels nice after temperatures in the teens for weeks in a row, but 45 degrees with rain while biking an hour away from any kind of shelter is dangerous.
Improve your chances of staying dry by using a waterproofing agent to enhance the water-wicking ability of your jacket. Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield is more or less the gold standard, but a cheaper solution called Thompson’s WaterSeal gets the job done. Just follow the directions on the bottle and your jacket will be that much more efficient. A cheap, old rain jacket can be transformed into something that beads water like expensive Gore-Tex with a much lower investment.
Photo by Chris Hammock