Riding in the rain doesn't have to be a terrible experience!
We experience all types of weather here in Pittsburgh, PA. We average 80 precipitation days a year, so riding in the rain is going to happen. Here are our top 15 "pro tips" for riding in the rain.
1. Keep your feet dry
Shoes and feet can very quickly become saturated with water in a rain storm. This is not fun, and could possibly be the worst part of riding in the rain. Looking for a simple solution? Plastic bread bags are a great solution to the problem.They take up virtually no space in your bag and don’t interfere with clipping into your pedals. Secure them around your ankles with a rubber band. At the end of your ride, toss them away.
2. Increase your visibility
It is no mystery that rain equals reduced visibility. There is no reason to increase your vulnerability to an accident. Make sure your lights are charged up and ready to go at all times. Keep a reflective vest in your bag for just-in-case times. If one is commuting and open to rain daily, invest in a jacket with bright colors and reflective elements on it.
3. Eye protection
Toss a pair of clear or yellow lens glasses into your bag. These do not have to be fancy. Clear safety glasses are available at home improvement stores for not too much money. Regular sunglasses can be too dark on a cloudy day. Another tip is to spray your lenses down with an anti-fog spray.
4. Protect your seat
If you have to park your bike outside and it is going to be rainy, bring an extra plastic bag to put over top. Use a rubber band to secure it on the seat post. Nothing is worse than a wet seat!
5. So you didn’t listen to our first tip…
…And now your shoes are wet. There is still hope. Grab yesterday’s newspaper, ball up a few pages, and stuff them in the shoes. Depending how wet the shoes are, it may be required to switch out the newspaper balls a couple of times. Placing shoes in a well ventilated location will help a lot too.
6. What about the hands?
A box of latex gloves are really affordable and take up virtually no room in your bag. Toss a couple in there and use them when necessary. They’ll make a great first layer if you are using full finger gloves and really help seal out water. Another great way to keep your hands warm is to use a neoprene glove.
So, you got caught in a quick rain storm and were not prepared. If you do not have access to a dryer, there is still hope for drying your jersey fairly quickly. First, ring out as much water as you can. Second, lay out a bathroom towel on the floor. Third, place your damp jersey on the towel. Fourth, roll up the towel as tightly as possible. Last, give it a twist like you’re ringing it out. This should help draw a lot of moisture out of it. Leave it in the towel for a while and repeat if necessary.
8. Tire PSI
Reducing PSI in your tires may be a good idea in a rain storm. This will increase the surface contact area which will increase grip. Don't reduce the PSI too much, you don't want to be riding on a flat. 5 or 10 PSI should do the trick depending on your tire size.
9. Avoid obstacles in the road
Anything metal can become extremely slippery.Avoid manhole covers, iron grates, and puddles. Puddles could be hiding a front rim tacoing pothole. Use extra caution when riding on bricks. When you’re crossing rail-road or trolley tracks always cross at 90 degrees to the track. Road paint can also become very slick when wet. If you’re riding close to the white line, pay extra attention.
10. Allow for more braking time
Just like when you’re driving more stopping distance is required to safely come to a stop. When using a rim brake, this distance can be more than you think. Definitely do a test stop before you really get going to make sure you’re comfortable. Also, brake before a turn, and never in the middle.
11. Bike maintenance
If you’re going to riding in the rain often, switch your chain lube to something that will be a little more resilient to the water. Something like White Lightning Wet Ride will last longer than a standard lube.
Also, after riding in the rain, wipe your bike down really well. Water can hide in places that can start corroding. Don’t forget to remove your seat post and give it a good wipe down. Steel frames and seat posts can rust together and make adjusting your seat impossible.
Inspect your tires.The wet conditions can cause things like glass and debris to stick to the rubber. Also check for any slices to the rubber.
12. Protect against the chafe
Wet skin can cause chaffing to occur a lot quicker than dry skin. Plus, all the road spray can contain grit and dirt that can find its way to sensitive parts.The best way to protect against this is with chamois cream. Even if you don’t normally use this, now would be a good time to try out that sample pack you picked up at the last bike festival you attended.
13. Keep your head dry
Waterproof helmet covers are a great investment. These go over top of your helmet and keep the water out. Some have a built in light for added visibility. These take up very little space in your bag, so it’s a great idea to keep it around.
14. Keep the spray down
Installing a well fitted pair of fenders on your bike is a great way to reduce the spray. Spray and tire kick up can cause a light rain to feel like a downpour. Fenders are well worth the investment.
15. Don’t forget to hydrate
If you’re on a long wet ride, don’t forget to keep drinking. Even though it may not feel like it, you’re still perspiring a lot. It can go unnoticed because the rain and cooler temperatures.