Wet Weather? No Problem! Top Rain Busting Tips
British summertime is famous for many things: deck chairs, ice cream, Wimbledon and of course, rain. A nice ride out in the sunshine can turn into an absolute nightmare if the black clouds roll in but luckily there are a few tricks you can teach yourself to make sure that you’re prepared for any situation, rain or shine.
The first thing that you should keep in mind is that the weather is unpredictable. The only dependable thing about the weather is its inconsistency; if the suns out, prepare for rain, if it’s hammering down, expect the sun to come out. Of course, that logic isn’t particularly useful but you should keep it in the back of your mind and pack for your ride accordingly. The phrase ‘luck favours the prepared’ is particularly relevant here.
Armed with the knowledge that whatever you’re wearing will inevitably be the wrong decision, back a small bag with an alternative change of clothes. Depending on the intensity of the rain you should consider bringing along a raincoat, overshoes and even a pair of gloves. If you get drenched, you’ll probably get cold too, so think carefully about what you pack.
For jackets, you should try to pack one with taped seams, otherwise that pesky water will find its way through the small gaps and soak you. Overshoes aren’t particularly important – you’re going to get wet feet anyway but if you want to keep your shoes clean they’re pretty useful. Gloves; you might be thinking ‘do I need gloves in the summer?’ the answer is ‘yes’ because the rain has a particular love for making roads slippery and slippery roads cause accidents – if you end up having one, you may land on your hands which will be rather uncomfortable if you need to carry on riding. Neoprene gloves are recommended because they are bonded, rather than sewn, keeping your hands nice and dry.
If the clouds are dark, you may have a problem seeing where you’re going, especially with rain whipping against your eyes. A pair of clear or yellow tinted lenses are perfect for battling the rain; they allow you to see further than sunglasses and protect your eyes from the driving rain.
If you pack for rain, it’ll inevitably remain sunny but you’ll probably prefer carrying around a light backpack than getting drenched, surely?
Some bikes have ‘em, some don’t and some riders prefer to remove them altogether. If you have an nice, expensive road bike, it might be worth investing in a set of mud guards for it; road dirt and grime could end up ruining it for a start but more importantly, riding in the rain without mud guards is incredibly unpleasant. In fact, many cycling clubs insist that all members must ride a bicycle with mud guards; imagine following the guy without one…
If it’s raining and your bike doesn’t have mud guards, it might be worth abandoning the ride altogether or finding another bike to ride instead. If you want to buy some new mud guards, it’s worth consulting a professional bicycle mechanic before you spend your cash – they’ll advise the best make, model and shape to suit your needs.
If you’re going out for a serious ride, then your tyre choice might make or break the ride if the weather turns bad. Your tyres keep you stuck to the ground and when it rains, you need as much traction as you can get. If you have the choice available to you, opt for slightly wider tyres, they’ll keep you anchored a lot more than thinner, racing tyres.
If you can’t change your tyres, it’s worth lowering your tyre pressures a little bit; you might end up riding slower but if the rain’s coming down, speed won’t be what you’re aiming for.
When the rain comes down, more hazards begin to appear; a wet road is very similar to an oil slick as the wet weather draws all of the ingrained oil from the roads to the surface. If you see any rainbow patterns on the roads, give them a wide berth.
You should also keep your eyes peeled for anything made of metal, like manhole covers and anything painted. These things become ridiculous slippery in the rain and if you make a sudden move, you may find yourself face down on the road!
Puddles are also a cause for concern, especially as the surface water may hide deep pot holes or loose chippings; either of the two is enough to cause a puncture or a buckled wheel!
Of course, it’s worth mentioning the usual safety advice, such as taking extra care around the tighter corners, going that little bit slower and checking your braking distances. The rain changes surfaces in ways that you wouldn’t believe and even on a road that you know very well, dangers will lurk around every corner (as well as straight in front of you!)
Consider Your Bike
If you’ve spent your cash on a top-of-the-range road bike then it’s also worth spending your change on another bike that you can thrash in the bad weather. If you’ve only got one, expensive bike then is it worth running the risk of damaging it in the rain? The short answer is ‘no’. Second hand bikes cost nothing and with a bit of fine tuning and TLC you can have a secondary bike that’s a joy to ride and not a problem if you trash!
Keep your second bike ready for the bad weather with decent mud guards, tyres, night lights and reflectors; you’ll be able to ride it on the worst days of summer and all through the winter, leaving your number one road bike for the special occasions without fear of damaging it in the rain!
- Prepare yourself for the worst weather geographically possible.
- If you haven’t got mud guards, put some on.
- Be aware of your tyre pressures and change them accordingly.
- Change your riding style to suit the weather.
- Keep a reserve bike in the garage for the days when the bad weather is unavoidable.
- Never let the rain get in the way of a good days ride!
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