So you say you never want to ride in the rain. What happens if it rains on race day? What do you do if you’re out on a long ride and the weather forecast was all wrong and you get a surprise rain shower? Truth is you at some point in time, you will probably end up riding in the rain. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to know how your bike handles in the rain and to have confidence in it and your abilities. Here are a few tips for when you find yourself riding in the rain.
1. Back off
If you are riding with other people, often their back tire will spray water and dirt behind them making making the situation even worse the people behind them. Give the people around you some room. Now is not the time to be drafting.
2. Give yourself plenty of stopping distance
When they are wet, brakes don’t work as well. This is especially true of the normal rubber padded rim brakes most road bikes have. Through in a little oil from the road and I’ve had to actually look and see if my brakes where still there at all. So much like when you’re driving on the snow, apply brakes early to judge their stopping power and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Bikes with rotor brakes, like many mountain bikes and some of the newer road bikes, will be effected less by this and will be able to stop quicker, so even more reasons for the #1 tip.
3. Watch for slippery surfaces
Be vigilant for upcoming surfaces that may alter your traction. Water on the road that has a rainbow look probably has oil in it. Lines painted on the road will become much more slippery. Metal surfaces like manhole covers and grates can be slick as ice so treat them as such.
Many people will lower their tire pressure (5 to 10psi) to give them a bit more traction. Doing though will increase the chance of a pinch flat, so be a bit more careful when going over surfaces that have an edge like train tracks and bridge abutments. Speaking of flats, rain tends to wash things to the side of the road, where we often ride, and wet tires tend to pick up more junk. Be sure you have good tires and have a flat kit of course. Some tires may also be better at handling the rain than others so something to consider when shopping for that next set.
5. What to wear
A waterproof outer shell is good, but I always tend to end rainy rides soaked no matter what I wear. So I tend to try and make sure I stay warm and safe. To make sure I stay warm, I usually dress as if it was a bit colder than it is to offset the cooling effect of the rain. Being able to see where you’re going is essential and I were clear eyewear treated with Rain-X to shield my eyes. You also want to be seen so wear bright colors.
6. Be visible
Rain and fog lowers visibility for other riders and for the cars we often share the road with. Even during the day, it’s important to wear colors that stand out. And I can’t stress enough the importance of having working, charged, and water resistant lights both front (white) and back (red). Just as in a car, when it’s raining, you should have your lights on.
7. After the ride
Give your bike some love after the ride. Wipe off the dirt and water and oil the chain and cables to keep rust away.
About the Author - Larry is a long-time triathlete who has completed every distance of triathlon, including three Iron-distance triathlons. Larry recently qualified for the 2018 USAT Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in Ohio. Larry is currently serving as Austin Tri Club's Director of Training and Group Workouts. To read more about Larry and the rest of the Austin Tri Club board, check out our Club Leadership page.
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