riding in the rain Women cycling

Top tips for riding in the rain or on wet roads

My friends Asa (right) & Annie in the Mudgee downpour

I often write about the topic of riding in the rain after I’ve been caught in an unavoidable downpour like I did on the weekend during the Mudgee Classic. While I never go out for a ride if it’s already pouring, I have been caught in many downpours like the one on Sunday and had to continue riding. So, whether you are keen to keep riding no matter the conditions, or you occasionally get caught, here are a few tips for riding in the rain:

Increase visibility

Possibly the worst part about riding in the rain is a major decrease in visibility. It is hard for other people to see you, particularly drivers and it’s harder for you to see others.

So turn on your lights to flashing mode, wear bright or light-coloured clothing, and be aware that drivers are going to have even more trouble seeing you. Depending on the conditions you may also need to take off your glasses and put them in your pocket because they will fog up.

Wear appropriate gear

If you go out when it’s already raining, or if you know there’s a high chance of rain wear waterproof, or at least water-resistant gear. In my experience, nothing will keep you dry if it rains hard enough but having things like a good quality rain jacket and waterproof shoe covers will help keep some of the water out. And make sure it’s a visible colour. Black might be trendy but it’s a disaster in poor weather for visibility.

Slow down

When it rains the roads and paths become very slippery. Avoid paving bricks, manhole covers, painted lines, and the tell-tale rainbow of oily residue on the road. White lines on the road and pedestrian crossings become link ice when it rains! If you can’t avoid them, try to steer straight and don’t turn or brake until you’ve cleared them. I’ve seen lots of riders come down on slippery surfaces in the rain, and not just weekend warriors but many professional riders in big races.

Avoid large puddles

Puddles of water can be a little hard to avoid, but where possible you should steer around puddles particularly if they are deep. The puddle could be concealing a pothole or other major obstacle that could knock you off your bike. You should also avoid riding through puddles of salty water near a major water source because salt will corrode parts of your precious bike.

Clean and dry your bike and gear when you get home

After your ride, take some time to wipe water and dirt off the frame, running gear, and particularly the rims or discs of your wheels. This will ensure that the brakes are still effective the next time you take your bike out. Also, wipe the water off the chain after a rain ride or it will rust, and apply bike lubricant.

If you ride regularly in the rain, you will need to get your bike serviced more often because the parts will wear faster, and the all-important grease in the areas like the bottom bracket, headset and wheels will gradually wash away.

You should also dry out other gear like shoes and helmets. If your shoes are wet, put scrunched-up newspaper in them which will draw out the moisture. I know printed newspapers are not in every household (I still read them!!) but thin paper will also do the same job.

Share your tips for riding in the rain or on wet roads via comments or the Women Who Cycle Facebook page or Community Group.