How to cycle in the rain
Even though you might describe yourself as a “fine-weather-cyclist”, I’m sure you get caught in the rain from time to time like I do. A recent 3 hour spin in mostly rainy weather prompted me to write this as it can take a bit of experience to be able to cycle in the rain and keeping warm and safe and this was very noticable as lacking in some of the people I was cycling with.
One of the big issues is your braking distance as this is reduced when cycling in the rain, both because of the lack of grip on the road and the lack of grip between your brake blocks and the braking surface on your rims. There are two lessons to remember here. The first is to let a tiny amount of air our of your types (maybe -10psi) which should improve your grip on the road. Secondly it is advisable in pretty wet conditions to skim the brakes of your wheels every so often to remove the excess water from your braking surface, so you are not quite engaging the brakes but just rubbing them off of the braking surface every so often. This will help to get rid of a lot of water that could stop you braking suddenly and when you need to.
Keeping dry is obviously a big challenge when cycling in the wet with rain falling down on top of you and road water hitting you from cyclists in front of you and from the wheel of your own bike. Personally I don’t think there is any such thing as waterproof clothing but if there is any doubts about the weather, I won’t be cycling without my rainjacket. Mudguards are also a good option in winter time but obviously not a runner unless you had planned ahead before the start of your cycle.
What can annoy me the most when cycling is when my feet get wet, if this happens I am definately making a bee line for home to change as soon as possible. One suggestion that I have found useful is to have a plastic bag between the outside of your cycling shoes and inside your overshoes. It definately keeps your feet dry and warm but can lead to alot of sweating if not enough air is getting at your feet but this isn’t a big deal if the cycle is only for an hour or two.
An important part of keeping warm on a wet day is to keep moving, something that can be overlooked. If it is raining I will try to avoid stopping at all unless I really have to and if I do it will be brief. Also for the same reason I will try to up my cadence a little bit on the wet to make sure I am keeping warm even if I mightn’t be moving too quickly.
Cornering is not easy in the wet. I have come off the worse for wear on more occassions than I would like to remember from not treating cornering in the wet with as much respect as it deserves. These days I tend to approach corners with more respect and slowly trying to keep my weight centered on the bike and not bending my bike and body too much in line with the turn as you normally would.
It is difficult sometimes to drive in the wet nevermind cycling in it so it is important to be seen on the road as soon as possible. I tend to wear reflective clothing if there is any change of rain and I do think it helps.
Funnily enough I actually find that can perform better in wet weather compared with dry weather and I have noticed this in some races that I have done in the past. Hopefully with these simple tips in mind you can take advantage of the bad weather too and stay safe.