CYCLING IN SUMMER RAIN06 July, 2014 0 comments
Cycling In Summer Rain
Maybe you are cycling to work, on a weekend trip away or training for a big ride and the heavens open with an almighty downpour, with rain forecast for the remainder of the day. What do you do? Call for a taxi? Stay indoors? Reach for the remote control? Don't! Whatever you are doing with your bike, don't let wet weather stop you from getting your wheels out.
What To Wear
If you are a regular cyclist then it's well worth investing in a high-quality, waterproof jacket. Bear in mind that a waterproof jacket won't be waterproof unless the seams are taped. Save yourself time and a lot of fuss by remembering to check if your jacket has taped seams before handing over your cash. Peter Lovell says that the balance between waterproofing and breathability is neigh on impossible to attain in a single fabric. So, if you are shopping for a full taped, fully waterproof jacket, look for ventilation features for when the rain has passed, such as pit zips. The best jackets on the market will use high quality fabrics such as Gore-Tex for example. If you are commuting, look for a jacket with extras, such as bum and storm flaps and pockets, as well as high-viz details, so you can make yourself seen on the road.
Mark Stosberg from Bikes As Transportation says that he finds it much more enjoyable to wear clothes that are comfortable when wet, and carries clothes for his destination in a dry bag. He suggests wearing a wicking shirt - polypropylene or a lightweight merino wool, and some quick drying shorts with material similar to swimming shorts. Splash pants are another option. A bill cap is also a good idea to keep the rain out of your eyes. Try and avoid hoods in the rain, as they can block your view when you need to turn your head.
Overshoes are worth their weight in gold, says Simon Richardson from Cycling Weekly. Your extremities are the first parts of your body to be sacrificed in order to maintain a core temperature, and when your hands and feet get wet and cold you will feel disproportionally uncomfortable.
Tip: Avoid long raincoats and ponchos. Wear these and you run the risk of them getting trapped in the spokes or frame. Instead, opt for a bicyclist's rain cape. The added bonus of a rain cape is that it allows ventilation underneath, perfect for those warm but wet days.
Equip Your Bike
David Arthur from Road.CC say that it's not just the rain that gets you soaked, your own spray from the road can, without mudguards, ensure you'll be soaked very quickly. Mudguards are available in a wide range to fit just about every model of road bike, from full-length traditional guards, to simple and cheap clip-on's.
Phillip Booth from Active.com says to let everyone know you are there. Heavy rain and the glare from auto headlights reduce motorists' vision. So it's a good idea to ride with bright LED lights.
Your tyres are more prone to punctures in the rain. David Arthur says that the water serves to wash all of the debris, grit and glass out of the gutter and into the road, and the water acts as an annoyingly effective lubricant to help sharp objects slice through rubber. Out for a long ride? Take a spare tube with you just in case.
Zac Dabb from Cascade Bicycle Studio suggests decreasing your tyre pressure when there's wet weather. Use anywhere from 5 to 10 psi lower than normal to get better traction. He also suggests to sit down and slow down. Stay seated more often during climbing, because you have less tyre traction. Don't punch it around corners; slow down earlier than normal to initiate curves.
Cycling on wet roads can be treacherous. The Human Cyclist Blog says the traction between the tyre and the road is reduced and corners quickly become enemies, as do manholes and drain covers. Both of these need treating as carefully as ice. Remember that breaking is also greatly reduced in the wet. Slowing down might be the last thing you want to do in the rain, but it's always better to arrive home wet than bruised and sore. Always avoid puddles and standing water when you can, as you don't know how deep the water is. Damp, dusty roads can also be a death trap, so be careful and remember to be confident on your bike. Kwin Peterson from Bike To Work Blog says that in his experience, confidence comes from four sources, and these are: having the right attitude, knowing the rules, good equipment and good technique.
The Human Cyclist Blog says that oiling the chain is the bare minimum, especially if you have just cycled through a biblical storm so heavy the paint was almost stripped from your frame. oiling the chain will prevent it from rusting. Richard Masoner from Commute By Bike says that as long as you keep up with some simple, basic maintenance, your bike should be just fine. Mudflaps not only keep the dirt from off your back, they also protect the more vulnerable parts of your bike too.
Tips for a simple but effective clean
Cleaning your bike after a wet ride will probably be the last thing you will want to do, but by spending ten minutes you can ensure your bike has a longer life. If your bike is totally encrusted, it will want a more intensive clean than the following.
- Use a watering can to rinse the grit and dirt off your bike.
- Dishwashing soap is fine to give the frame and the wheels a clean.
- Dry with a towel and re-lubricate.
Okay, okay, so you might not want to head out. Why not clean your bike instead. plan your next trip or browse the web for some good cycling blogs to get you inspired for when the rain eases off.