If you ever ride in the United Kingdom, then you will be no stranger to the threat of rain. For most of the year, some clouds are displayed on the weather forecast, even if rain doesn’t actually materialise. Although rain can make cycling more difficult, light rain should not preclude you from taking to your bike.
Fairweather cyclists actually end up missing out on some of the best cycling days, for fear that they might be caught outside in a rain shower. Here are some tips to increase your confidence about cycling in the rain.
Investing in a decent waterproof layer will help to improve your cycling experience, whatever the weather. The best pieces of waterproof clothing will help to keep the rain water out, but they will avoid trapping your body sweat in. Water or sweat which is trapped near to your skin can cause severe chaffing and irritation. Long trousers are also better in wet conditions, because they will help to keep your legs warm and dry. This can help to keep your leg muscles warmer and will reduce the risk of pulled muscles and leg cramping.
Gloves are also recommended if you are planning on cycling in wet weather conditions. Wet hands can get cold very quickly and this will reduce their dexterity. This can make it harder to brake and steer effectively. Good waterproof gloves can prevent this from happening.
Riding glasses or goggles are also a great idea because they will help to keep the rain out of your eyes.
Wearing a special peaked riding hat underneath your helmet can also help to prevent water dripping down from your helmet and into your eyes. Keeping clear vision when cycling is paramount; whatever the weather.
Try to avoid big puddles whenever possible, even if you do love to make a big splash! It may not always be possible to tell how deep a puddle is or what it might be hiding. If you ride into a puddle which has formed within a deep pothole, then this could damage your wheels or cause you to crash your bike. If you do need to travel through puddles, it is best to do so as slowly as you can to minimise the risk.
When you are riding in the rain, you will need to alter the way that you slow your bike. Avoid hard or sudden braking as you will be more likely to skid, slide or lose your grip on the road. You will need to start braking sooner as your stopping distances will increase on a wet road. Try to avoid riding on painted lines or patches which look oily because these are likely to be even more slippery than the general road surface.
Reduce Tyre Pressure
If you are caught out in heavy rain but need to continue riding, then you may want to think about reducing your tyre pressure by a small amount. Decreasing your tyre pressure by about 10psi can allow slightly more of the tire to touch the road. This means that you can increase the grip on the road surface. It will also force you to ride slightly slower which will help to keep you safe in difficult conditions.
If you choose to reduce your tire pressure, make sure that you do not reduce by more than 15psi, as this could become dangerous. Remember to top your tire pressure up again next time that you are out on your bike.
Eyes on the Prize
If you do get caught out in a sudden rain shower, try to remember why you are out on a ride in the first place. Stay positive and treat yourself to a reward at the end of the session. Treat yourself to an extra slice of cake at the café or have a lovely hot bath when you make it home. Keeping the right attitude whilst you are cycling is actually important for your safety too. Riders are more likely to make a mistake if they feel tired and mentally dejected. When you are riding in the rain, you should do everything that you can to avoid making mistakes.