Merde, il pleut!
The summer is far from over, but the peak temperatures of the last fortnight have backed off and the rain has returned. Ignore that voice in the back of your head telling you to stay off your bike, the worst thing about cycling in the rain is thinking about it!
Follow these tips and you’ll be spinning along, loving it – promise!
1. Wear a jacket
Yes, obvious, but we’re mentioning it because you no longer have to look like you’re directing traffic in high-viz. Companies like Water Off A Duck’s Back and U34 make jackets that are cut for riding, have stealthy reflective panels and don’t look odd in the office or the wine bar. If it’s really tipping down, then waterproof trousers and shoe covers or Sealskinz socks complete your rain-combat collection.
2. Be ready for punctures
It doesn’t just feel like you get more punctures when it’s wet, you really do. Water helps to lubricate the edge of a glass shard so it’s easier for it to cut your tyre and tube. Psssss – flat tyre.
Carry a couple of spare tubes, tyre levers and some sort of pump. CO2 inflators are quick to use, but they’ll cost you the price of cartridge every time. A full-size pump that fits in your frame will get your tyres back up to pressure much faster than a mini-pump, which really should be your last resort.
3. Light up
Rain means reduced visibility, so slapping on a rear flasher and the brightest front light you can afford helps distracted drivers with dodgy wipers see you.
4. Get ahead, get a hat
A peaked hat or a helmet with a peak is invaluable for keeping the rain out of your eyes. Especially vital if you wear glasses.
5. Guard against the mud
It’s a total mystery to us why so many riders put up with getting drenched by spray from their tyres. Get full-length mudguards (not those silly short, clip-on things) and you will be much, much drier. We like the SKS Bluemels guards with the rubber ends that stop your feet getting wet because the front almost extends to the floor, and Bontrager’s quick-fit Nebula and NCS guards. For road race bikes with no mudguard fittings, go for Crud Products RoadRacer guards.
6. Go fat and low
We’re talking tyres here. Dropping the pressure will give you more grip and make the ride comfier. Fatter tyres are less likely to puncture if you hit a pothole that’s concealed by standing water.
7. Brake early
Water increases braking distances as the water on your rims has to be cleared before the brake blocks can do their thing. Anticipate braking and brake early rather than late. Or get a bike with disc brakes, which are far less affected.
Really? Yep – there’s nothing like riding in the rain for making you feel really righteous and hardcore. You’re out in the wet while lesser mortals are crammed into buses or frustrated in cars. Relish the smugness.