Okay, I have to ‘fess up. I am hesitant to ride in the rain. I shouldn’t be, and I have a reasonable amount of experience at it — although in Central Texas, we have far less opportunity to ride in the rain than people in other parts of the country.
Here’s what triggered this post: I have fallen four times on the bike since 2009. Two of the four falls were the result of rainy or wet conditions. Each time, I had little in the way of open wounds, but took a long time to recover from being banged up. Shoulders, ribs, hips, etc.
I joke with my friends that “I’m too old to fall.” I say that because at my age, I know recovery takes longer. And yet, back in March, I did fall.
And three weekends ago, I was on a club ride when the skies opened up. Oddly enough, it happened on a stretch of road where I had been caught in a downpour just last summer. Then, I recall sticking with the group, and covering about 10 soaking miles. This time, I found myself reacting in a skittish, almost timid way to the rain.
I slowed way down. The guy I was riding with took off, and in no time was a quarter mile ahead of me. The shower we were in didn’t last long, and the road actually started drying out after the next couple of miles.
A member of our club whom I don’t know well was recently hit by a car, and although his recovery is nearly complete, I’m told he has a sort of post traumatic stress disorder about it. He’s almost scared to get back on his bike and ride in traffic.
I’m not that bad about rain, but I’m a lot more cautious than I used to be.
And yet, people ride in the rain all the time — relish it, even. So, readers, I’m asking for some reader participation here.
How do YOU ride in the rain?
Rather than post in comments at the bottom of this page, I prefer that you email me. I’ll compile the suggestions, tips, skills, guidelines — whatever you want to call them — and put them in their own post sometime in the future.
It’s unlikely I’ll be looking for rain riding opportunities even after I get some tips — but I’m hoping I won’t be as hesitant about it as I am now.
Again, to respond, just send an email to rainycamp AT yahoo DOT com.
I’m in England so get lots of opportunity to ride in the rain should I so desire. I still prefer not to, though, and will avoid it if possible. I didn’t mind it so much when I was a contact lens wearer, but now I’m back in glasses rain is a pain.
First things first, have mudguards. Always have mudguards.
Second, shorts dry quicker than any trousers, so if the rain’s not too cold, stick with shorts.
And, of course, take it steady, especially round corners.
Two simple thoughts on riding in the rain. First, like Trevor, I also wear glasses so rain on my lenses is a serious hazard. Unless I am caught in a surprise storm, I simply don’t ride out in the rain. Second, where I live in Chicago, I have access to a series of ‘underground’ streets called Lower Wacker Drive. These streets connect some of the highrises and hotels downtown. I have the option of riding my bike there where there is no rain, or snow or ice or wind. The downside on weekdays is the trucks of course, but on weekends, it’s all mine.
One last thought about riding in the rain and on wet pavements, you have to slow down because the brakes work by gripping your tires. So, when wet you have less braking power.
Otherwise, enjoy your rides!
Your brakes grip on the *tyres*? Sounds like they’re set up wrong, unless there’s a type of brake I’ve never come across. They should be on the rims. (Unless you have disc brakes, but that’s even further from the tyres.)
Sorry, of course my brakes grip on the rims. The principle remains the same, I just wrote it clumsily.
Phew! Glad to hear it. Thought I was going mad for a while there.
Bike Noob says
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, so I’m familiar with Lower Wacker. No such animal around here, tho.
Hah, I have canti’s on a 44 pound crosscheck, and I ride up a 1800 foot hill (and down) for fun commuting to work in the rain on occasion. That being said, I’m in Northern Cali bay area, so there’s not a lot of rain unless we’re in a winter storm, and I won’t ride in that. Rain is one thing, downpours are another. Fortunately, I almost always ride alone, so I don’t have to worry about paceline crashes in the rain/etc. I can slow down and take my time. For showers, you should ride on through at a comfy pace, and try and pick back up your riding group at the next regroup. If you plan on riding in the rain where the whole ride is in the rain, I’d get a rain bike with a 25-28 mm tire fenders. People who like riding in the rain almost always have a bike set up for the rain. And they aren’t trying to set Strava records doing it. 🙂
I like riding in the rain. I wear a cycling cap under my helmet — the brim keeps most of the rain off of my sunglasses. I go slower when approaching turns, feather my breaks, favoring the rear break more than usual, and try exercise extra caution or stay off of anything that could be unexpectedly slippery like lane lines, manhole covers, or concrete/asphalt transitions. Lowering tire pressure by 10 psi helps improve grip, as does leaning your body instead of your bike into a turn. The biggest thing for me, though, is being comfortable with the wheels slipping out a little without loosing control. If you start to loose control and suddenly apply the breaks instead of smoothly pedaling though it, the rear tire skids out and down you go. You can get used to the feeling by trail riding on a mountain or cyclocross bike, or riding a road bike on dirt roads or trails that aren’t too sketchy.