Wet Road Warnings: 10 Cycling Tips For The Winter!
Riding in the wet isn’t particularly fun but there are a few things that you can do to make your experience a lot more enjoyable. Let’s face it: it’s the UK and it’s winter – it’s going to rain at some point and you’re going to get caught out in it. Sure, you could throw in the towel and put your cycling on hold for the season or you can rise to the challenge and face whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
You can expect wet roads, driving rain, howling winds and biting cold; expecting them is one thing but knowing how to deal with them is another. If you’re going to survive out on the roads at this time of year, you’d better remember all of these points listed below. Some of them are obvious but others…not so much. By knowing what the potential hazards are out there, you can give yourself a head start and get from A to B as safely as possible.
When it’s wet, car drivers can have a really hard time seeing you; if you’re a regular cyclist, you’ll know that they have trouble seeing you when the weather’s great – throw a misty windscreen and dark mornings and evenings into the mix and see how invisible you’ll become to them. You can make life easier for everyone by wearing bright clothing and keeping your lights on. Do whatever it takes to get noticed – it could save your life! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Watch Those Pedestrians!
When the weather takes a turn for the worst, everyone is in a rush to get out of it. You might think that cars are your biggest hazard but regular pedestrians are also a possible threat. When the hoods are up and the umbrellas are out, pedestrians really struggle to see what’s going on around them. If you’re cycling along in the wet, you can make an educated guess that someone is going to step into your path at some point. Combat this by taking extra care, expecting the unexpected and don’t make any assumptions!
The Right Clothing!
Wearing the right clothing can keep you nice and dry but it can also make you safer. If you’re warm and comfortable, you’ll be able to keep your concentration on the road, rather than worrying about where the rain’s getting in. Proper winter cycling gear is perfect for the winter: it keeps you warm and dry and it also comes in highly visible, bright colours to make sure that you stand out!
The Right Bike!
By ‘the right bike’ we mean the right tool for the job, with all of the right features. If you’re used to cycling in the summer, your bike may not have mudguards fitted, or it might have tyres that are fairly useless in the wet. Make sure that you’ve got mudguards on because riding in the wet without them is unpleasant for you (and for the cyclist behind you!) You don’t want any unnecessary spray flicking into your face. As for tyres and the rest of the bike, read our guide about finding the perfect winter set up for you bicycle!
Caution: Slippery Surfaces!
This might seem fairly obvious to some but if you’re not used to riding in the wet, you might want to avoid some of the following things: drainage covers, cats eyes, painted lines, wet leaves, mud and of course, oil spillages. In fact, new roads are also pretty slippery surfaces and you should take care of them too. When these things get wet, they can become a real nightmare so it’s best that you take extra care going over or through them; failing that, avoid them like the plague!
Puddles are a real pain because they tend to appear exactly where they’re not wanted, especially around corners. Puddles and the moving water that causes them can be dangerous. The moving water that causes them can bring sand, gravel and oil with them, making the road pretty slippery. Puddles can hide all manner of evil, from pot holes to loose chippings. If you have to go through either of these things, proceed with caution or avoid them entirely.
It goes without saying that your brakes are going to be a lot less responsive in rain. Like with all vehicles, when it’s wet your braking distances are going to be much longer; you will need to take extra care and try your best to perceive every potential hazard as soon as possible. You might also need to pump your brakes every now and again to keep them dry; if you get caught out with wet brakes, you might find yourself in trouble.
Tyres And Traction
Tyres a great for keeping you stuck to the road, keeping you moving forward and pretty handy when braking; the downside is that they’re only good for one thing at a time, especially in the wet. You don’t want to be braking whilst accelerating; you don’t want to be braking whilst cornering either. In the dry, you can get away with these mistakes but when the road is slippery, braking whilst cornering is a big ‘no no’.
Sliding happens in the wet and if you mismanage your braking, you might become better acquainted with the road than you’d like. To combat sliding, go easy on the front brake. If you slide your back wheel, it’s not the end of the world. If the front slides: you’re in big trouble. If you’re not sure how to proceed, take it slowly. In the wet, slow and steady wins the race. Especially if your definition of ‘winning’ means arriving at your destination in one piece!
Bike Care In The Winter!
Keep your bike in good health by making sure that you clean it properly and service it regularly throughout the winter. This could mean ensuring that you have the correct tyre pressures but more importantly, it means giving your bike a good wash, a proper dry and ample lubrication for those moving parts. Dirty roads can kill bikes but the winter brings another nasty menace along with it: salt. Salted roads can really cause you problems, so make sure you give your bike the attention it deserves.
All In All…
Always appreciate that riding in the wet, wintery weather can be dangerous; the same rules apply for all road users, so don’t let that put you off. As long as you ride at a safe speed, keep your wits about you and never take anything for granted, you’ll be fine! Don’t let the wet weather get in the way of a good ride! Take care out there!