Six tips for riding on wet roads and in the rain
My hometown of Sydney Australia is an awesome place to live and most of the time we have great bike riding weather but we’re now suffering our way through our third La Nina weather occurrence which brings loads of rain, so I find that I’m currently riding on wet roads and in the rain. While I never go out for a ride if it’s already pouring, I have on occasion been caught in a downpour and had to continue riding. So whether you are keen to keep riding no matter the conditions, or like me you occasionally get caught, here are a few tips for riding in the rain:
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
If you’re a regular rainy weather rider then consider installing a set of fenders or mudguards to keep water from splashing upwards.
Clean your bike 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, 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.