Learn the basics of how to ride your bike in the rain. Ultimately, getting your feet wet…err, “practice” is key. But here are a few tips to get you started!
The feeling of the wind rushing past you as you speedily cycle down an empty road on a bright is thrilling. But nature isn’t always smiling down on us with the big bright sun – there are dark days with heavy clouds.
For beginners, when the clouds grow dark, that’s the time to scurry back indoors – even experienced cyclists tend to stay off the road when it’s raining. From the blinding splashes of water, to heavy wind that tends to sweep you off-balance, there is always something to make cycling in the rain a nightmare.
But if you cycle long enough, it’s bound to happen, eventually. The rain may begin to fall unexpectedly or you have to keep up with a training program, or the weather forecast changes to rain on a previously clear day in which you rode your bike to work. Cycling in the rain begins something most cyclists with experience, despite the common distaste of billowing breezes and droplets of water.
According to Kate Venronneau – an ex-guide at Thomson Bike Tours, it’s the dream of cyclists to cycle with clear skies, but things don’t always go as planned. Hence, her advice “go out and ride in the rain”.
While it may be a daunting task, the ex-guide noted that cycling in the rain helps build stamina and how to handle your bike in tough situations. If you can cycle through the winds and splashes without losing your balance and crashing, then you’ll find it easy to control your bike under clear skies. What’s more? The more you can handle cycling in the rain, the more consistent you’ll be compared to someone who cycles only under clear skies – this will definitely boost your confidence.
But how do you cycle in the rain? Well, you wait till it’s raining, get on your bike and pedal. But here are a few things that’ll help make cycling in the rain a little more pleasant.
Get a Waterproof Jacket
While you may enjoy getting soaked from time to time, your body will protest when the cold sets in. Aside from this, you should know that saddle sores can set in as a result of moisture in your inner thighs. If it’s pouring rain and you’re cycling without any sort of waterproof layer, you’ll most likely set yourself up for saddle sores and an overall uncomfortable ride.
To avoid this, getting the best waterproof jacket is your best option. A breathable yet waterproof jacket will keep you dry enough to cycle through the rain.
It’s worth noting that while a waterproof jacket will help keep your dry for a while, you will eventually get soaked if you cycle in the rain for a prolonged period.
If you do happen to suffer from saddle sores, you can read all about how to treat and prevent saddle sores.
While they might look a little disfiguring, they’re essential for cycling in the rain. With mudguards, you can keep the mud and dirt from splashing back up to your feet and bottom. Your legs can feel uncomfortable having to put up with constant splashes of dirt and mud - using mudguards is the easiest way to reduce this.
Use Waterproof Gloves and Overshoes
It’s only logical to protect the parts that would suffer the most from splashes of dirt and water (your feet) and from the falling rain (your hands…assuming you’re riding with them on the bars, and not in your pockets!).
Gloves and overshoes can keep your hands and feet from getting wet and suffering from the cold to a surprising degree. While the bigger waterproof gloves and overshoes may be uncomfortable during a normal ride, they’re your best bet to regulating the temperature in your arms and legs on cold, wet days.
There is however a balancing act to be aware of - whatever gloves or overshoes you’re putting on need to be breathable; excessively thick materials may be warmer, but they will impair your ability to control your bike; and please be sure to use gloves and overshoes that fit you well!
Get a Cycling Cap and Googles
While your cycling helmet (and I do hope you are wearing a helmet) may keep your head dry briefly, you’ll need the extra support of a cycling cap worn under the helmet to keep your head dry a little longer.
Most cycling helmets are designed with air vents to channel heat out while protecting the head against crashes. But in the rain, these vents would let water seep in, and potentially even trickle down to your eyes. Hence, a cycling cap.
Additionally, when riding in the rain, there’s a good chance of getting water in your eyes. Race goggles would help protect your eyes from the barrage of raindrops and heavy wind. With the occasional wipe clean, they will help you to see clearer while cycling.
Puddles are like the sirens on the rocks. They might look like fun as you approach, but quite often you regret your decision.
You never can tell the depth of a puddle, or much more of what’s underneath. So ready your mind to avoid all puddles on your track, this will help you avoid painful crashes in the rain. Where there’s a puddle, double check behind you to see if there’s any vehicles coming, then ride around the puddle.
If you’re riding in front of someone, it’s generally good etiquette to point out puddles and potholes as you’re riding ahead and potentially obscuring the view of the person behind you.
Think of it this way - you’re only permitted to ride through a puddle if you can clearly see its depth and what’s beneath. This rarely happens, so your best bet is to just avoid puddles altogether.
Generally, rainfall equals poorer visibility, which leaves you vulnerable. To help your visibility and safety, it’s best you consider fixing front and rear LED lights onto your bike. The front light will help brighten the path ahead of you, thus helping you see.
While both LED lights will make you more visible to other road users– you definitely don’t want to get splashed, or worse, hit by a car, so it’s best you leave your lights on so they can spot you!
You can’t go blazing down the road when it’s raining, just as you would under sunny skies – that’s a recipe for disaster. Just like you learned to ride faster over time, you need to slowly learn to ride faster during the rain – your bike’s balance and grip are both compromised, so make sure to not overdo it.
Harsh winds and slippery roads can easily make you lose balance especially when you’re riding at higher speeds. So, to avoid crashing, maintain a low speed that gives you stronger control over your bike.
Another way to do this is reduce your tire pressure a little bit. You'll naturally ride a bit slower as a result.
Cycling in the rain while sitting up straight is an easy way to reduce grip and visibility. Rather, lean forward ever so slightly on your bike. When you lean forward, you’ll see the road ahead a little better, and your overall grip on your bike is maintained (because there’s a bit more weight on your front wheel…that’s the one that turns!).
Clean up after cycling in the rain
While you may have improved your skill by cycling in the rain, you definitely need to cleanup afterwards. Assuming you don’t want to end up with a less than stellar bike and gears that “click funny”, there’s no negotiating cleanups.
Mud splattered on your bike should be washed off immediately. This is to ensure you don’t have to deal with hardened mud stuck to the critical areas of your bike later.
Your body and clothes are no exception to the cleanup – you definitely don’t want to create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Wash all your gear and dry it out fully before your next use. This way, you won’t compromise the durability of your gear and your overall health.
Honestly, cycling in the rain is pretty simple stuff. Try to avoid getting wet. Ride more cautiously. And stay healthy. (That said, I’m someone that really avoids anything but fair weather. During poor weather conditions, I “relax” with The Sufferfest.)