Don’t let the rain stop you cycling your bike. Whether you are cycling in a sportive, a club ride, or just out and about, these 10 top tips for road cycling in the rain will make sure you stay safe, comfortable and in control.
10 tips for cycling in the rain
#Tip1: Ride consistently and predictably
This is something you can do for other riders on the road. It’s really important, if you are riding in a big group, to ride consistently and predictably, which means not suddenly slowing down, turning, cutting across riders, etc. These actions not only affect you, they might mean riders around you have to brake suddenly which increases the likelihood of someone skidding or crashing.
#Tip2: Slip on some glasses
A pair of glasses with a clear or yellow lens will protect your eyes from flying water, mud, road grit and all the other bits of debris that can be thrown up by bike wheels. Yellow or orange lenses will increase contrast if the light levels are low, which will help you make out lump and bumps in the road more easily.
#Tip3: Eye protection
Toss a pair of clear or yellow lens glasses into your bag. These do not have to be fancy. Clear safety glasses are available at home improvement stores for not too much money. Regular sunglasses can be too dark on a cloudy day. Another tip is to spray your lenses down with an anti-fog spray.
#Tip4: Make sure you have the right kit
A good waterproof jacket will make all the difference to your riding experience in the wet, particularly if you are out for several hours. Waterproof shoe covers, tights, over trousers and gloves are all also good options to go for if you want to be completely protected from the elements.
#Tip5: Watch out for slippery patches
Rain can make roads treacherous, particularly if it’s been dry for a period of time before hand. Try to avoid puddles, painted lines, and the tell-tale rainbow of oil slicks, and you should be fine. If you can’t avoid them, try and avoid applying the brakes or turning when you are on them.
#Tip6: Control your speed and avoid hard braking
Wet weather means you’ll have to be more considered in how you ride and how you control your speed. Sudden hard braking is best avoided as you are more likely to loose your grip on the road and skid. Make sure you look up and ahead, anticipate where you might need to stop or slow down, and make moves to do it slowly and well in advance. Apply your brakes smoothly and slowly, decelerating gradually.
#Tip7: Avoid potholes and puddles
Potholes are bad news for cyclists, and road cyclists in particular. They can cause you to go off course, or in a worse case scenario damage your wheels or make you crash. In the rain, they become trickier still, not just because the reduced grip but because you won’t be able to see if it’s a shallow puddle or gaping chasm of doom. Stay clear!
#Tip8: Keep your feet dry
Shoes and feet can very quickly become saturated with water in a rain storm. This is not fun, and could possibly be the worst part of riding in the rain. Looking for a simple solution? Plastic bread bags are a great solution to the problem.They take up virtually no space in your bag and don’t interfere with clipping into your pedals. Secure them around your ankles with a rubber band. At the end of your ride, toss them away.
#Tip9: Take care when cornering
Corners are another obstacle you’ll need to take care with. As before, look up and anticipate the corner, and reduce your speed before the corner so you are not applying the brakes going into or around the corner.
The widest line around the corner is best as it’s the straightest, so go into the corner wide, cut close to the inside, then exit wide. This might not be possible if there are lots of other people on the road at that point at the same time.
While going around the corner, drop your outside foot to the lowest point and shift your weight over this a little more, as this will increase your grip on the road.
#Tip10: Try and enjoy it!
Okay, so it’s not bright and sunny, but think about how much more refreshing it is to ride in the wet than in the blasting, searing heat! If you are feeling a bit miserable, give yourself a treat or snack, and try and stay positive – it will result in a far more enjoyable ride.
And just think, you’ll totally deserve that tasty meal, hot bath and snuggly bed when you finish.
8 Reasons to Ride in the Rain
#Reason1: Your bike handling skills will be amazing
Riding in the wet presents its own set of challenges.
On the roads, the surface is much slicker, and painted road markings act like little patches of ice. Cornering requires careful and smooth control. Speed should be that much lower and braking should be deployed much earlier. Try to avoid braking hard and instead aim to decelerate gradually and in good time.
If you’re on the mountain bike, look out for roots that have transformed to traction-less tubes and mud that’s ready to send you flying. When it comes to roots, avoid braking as you roll over them and always look ahead on the trail for patches where you’ll find more traction for braking and checking your speed.
#Reason2: Getting warm and dry again is absolute bliss
There is absolutely nothing that makes you appreciate clean dry clothes, a hot shower and satisfying food like getting tired and wet while out cycling. Grab yourself something tasty, satisfying and warm, and don’t forget to give your bike a little TLC too. The better you treat your bike the better it’ll cope with inclement weather and your pricy components and parts will last longer, too.
#Reason3: You’ll feel like a kid
Splashing through puddles is fun. Everyone knows it as a kid; they forget it as adults. Riding in the rain allows you to recapture those gems from your childhood.
#Reason4: You’ll be more consistent
Unless you live where the sun always shines, rainy days or spells (or seasons…) can put huge dents in your saddle time. Salvage those ride streaks by shreddin’ rain or shine.
#Reason5: Hero points
Seeing onlookers gape as you blast through conditions they don’t even like driving in never gets old. Family and friends will call you crazy, but you’ll know that deep inside, they’re wishing they had just an ounce of your chutzpah.
#Reason6: Increased confidence
All the skills gained and wisdom earned will give you more confidence when faced with rainy days, both on and off the bike. Because let’s face it, if you can ride through a stormy downpour with your body and mind intact, you’re ready for pretty much whatever.
#Reason7: A sense of slightly smug satisfaction
We don’t think it’s unfair to say that you can award yourself extra hardcore points if you make it out to ride through the rain. You get even more if you do it regularly. It means that you’re a proper cyclist. You laugh in the face of inclement weather, you grin at downpours and shrug off mud. You also know that there are a whole lot of other benefits that other fair-weather cyclists don’t get to enjoy.
#Reason8: Going out in the rain is kind of liberating
Remember when you were little and used to splash about in puddles? Fun, wasn’t it? We think that riding through the rain can give you that same simple sense of fun that you felt as a child. Once you’ve gotten over the worry of getting wet and just decide to embrace it, you’ll find yourself aiming for puddles and grinning to yourself as you fly along.
One of the reasons it sucks so much is due to the absence of gear that can adequately protect you from the elements, while still allowing you to exert so much physical energy.
By contrast, modern motorcycle gear is amazing. And if you’ve developed an ability to tolerate bad weather on a bicycle, you will hardly notice it on a motorcycle. Riding in the rain, riding in the cold—no problem. While all your friends are calling off their rides and hiding under electric blankets, you will be out there enjoying the amazing awesomeness that is motorcycling.