If you’re planning to be in a good condition in early spring, you may consider continuing training during the cold, wet days of the winter. It is a key to success. Here are the top 10 tips and tricks for riding in the rain safely.
- Firstly, keep your core warm while riding in the rain. A waterproof vest or jacket with a dropped skirt in the back and a hood is critical for heavy conditions. Wear a wicking underliner made from wool or polypropylene and wool socks. Cover your shoes with neoprene booties, or wear waterproof boots. Wear full-fingered water-and wind-resistant gloves. Remember, your body sweats rain or shine, so your jacket and garments must breathe (choose Gore-Tex-type fabrics or ventilated outer garments) or you’ll arrive wet from the inside, instead of the outside. You can also consider using a lightweight mudguard on your rear wheel. Clip-on mudguards are really lightweight and they do a great job.
- Get a rain bike. Every serious cyclist needs a second bike with cheap components, fenders, and winter tires to use for winter training. You don’t want to trash your race bike riding it in the rain or on the bad roads. The most expensive (relatively) part on the bike must be the tires. Never try to save money on tires. Always use the best (this means usually most expensive) tires on your bikes.
- Relax your arms and shoulders. If your arms are so tense, you’ll crash when you slide.
- Look ahead and plan your line while cornering. Try to avoid road lines, pedestrian crosswalks, or anything metal, while riding in the rain. These types of surfaces become extremely slippery when they are wet.
- As you begin to turn, press hard on the outside pedal. This will lower your center of gravity and push the tires into the surface for better traction.
- When you riding behind someone, you can get blinded by spray thrown up from the rear wheel. If you follow the wheel in front of you a bit closer, then less spray will hit you (although it seems counter-intuitive). It’s also good to sit a bit to one side, so spray hits your shoulder instead of your face.
- Wear a cycling cap under your helmet, or use a helmet visor. This shield helps keep spray out of your eyes.
- Do not wipe the grime off your glasses with your gloves or with a corner of your jersey. The road grit will scratch your glasses. Give them a quick shower using your water bottle, instead.
- A trick often used by pro cyclists: Unclip your left foot and roll along at low speed. While applying the rear brake, turn sharply to the left. If you start to slide, simply put down your left foot to prevent the crash. You will discover the limit of the tire traction quickly.
- Once you feel confident of cornering in the rain, ride with a couple of riders next time wet weather moves in. Do not turn it into a race, do not be aggressive. Stay in control, try to stay confident having other riders around you. Try to keep yourself behind a rear-wheel without being blinded by the spray.
Why you should consider riding in the rain
Short answer: harden the f*ck up.
- Riding in the rain improves your bike handling.
- It prepares you for the worst and improves your confidence. Especially if you’re a racing cyclist, it would be better for you to get prepared for rainy conditions before going to a race.
- It is better to ride consistently. Rainy days can put huge dents the time you spend in the saddle. If you get used to ride in the rain, that would be good for consistency and makes you a better cyclist.
- You’ll appreciate good weather more.
- It can be fun (at least sometimes).
- “11 tips for cycling in the rain” on the Cycling Weekly website
- “8 Reasons to Ride in the Rain” on the Bicycling Magazine website
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