Spring is famous for many things: the first budding flowers, the blue skies, the long days. It's also a season that's notorious for unexpected showers.
Riding in the rain is something all cyclists will have to do at some point, unless you're incredibly cautious and have a weather sense that beats anything Accuweather can offer. However, inconvenient as it might be the rain doesn't have to, in local newspaper language, 'dampen your spirits'.
Here's a few tips to help you weather the conditions...
Don't put yourself through it unnecessarily
Perhaps you just like riding in the rain, but if that were the case you probably wouldn't have come to this post. Of course, if you're taking part in an event or commuting and it's due to rain, then there's not much you can do about the situation - but if you're just planning a two hour ride of a weekend then checking the forecast and planning around what's anticipated is obviously sensible.
No rocket science there. However, what is pretty clever is the app Will It Rain Today?. We were introduced to this app by none other than a British Airways pilot, and it's incredibly accurate - in fact it predicted the raincast on a Tuesday afternoon recently to within 10 minutes of the drip drops starting. Download it to your phone for early warnings.
Cap and packable
Did you think that cycling caps were just a fashion accessory for cyclists? Wrong! Cycling caps are excellent for keeping rain out of your eyes. Better still, they'll block any glaring rays of sun when the rain finally stops.
A packable jacket is also another excellent investment. These are light water resistant jackets designed to keep the worst off, that roll neatly into your pocket the rest of the time. The Castelli Squadra is a great example, as is the Sportful Hot Pack.
If you're after the ultimate in spring apparel, the Castelli Gabba is absolutely excellent and keeps out rain as well as being light and breathable. However, you will be looking at spending upwards of £150 - though this is a great garment for all conditions and should last multiple seasons. For more suggestions on wet weather gear, check out this dedicated post.
One other way to improve your ride is to fit mudguards. However, we do understand why you might not want a set of full, heavy, mudguards now the spring has arrived. That's where the ass saver comes in. Inexpensive and light, these simply slip onto your saddles rails for a little respite.
Watch your pressure
Wet weather conditions mean that your grip on the road is reduced. This can be partially remedied by having good quality, slightly wider 25c tyres designed for winter conditions. However, we'll forgive you if you've already swapped over to summer rubber. The other way to improve grip is to increase surface area, and you can do this by dropping your tyre pressure.
If you'd usually opt for 100 PSI, drop down to 90, if you'd go for 90, drop down to 80. Remember that tyre pressure is relative to rider weight - lighter riders needs less - so the perfect pressure will vary between riders.
Be aware of corners, puddles and drains
Road surfaces and spotting their defects becomes more important in the rain when your connection to the road is reduced by the slippery surface.
When cornering, adjust your speed accordingly, remembering to slow down in advance of the bend and not on it - braking on a corner can cause your back wheel to slide. It's also worth riding around large puddles where you can - you never know what's nestled beneath the surface and you don't want to discover a new pot hole has appeared.
Finally, metal becomes slippery when wet, so drain covers and other shiny surfaces should be avoided. Remember that all this means you may need to give yourself more space on the roads by riding further from the curb, to give you more room either side to menouveur.
Adjust your riding and remember all brakes are not equal
Wet conditions mean that braking speeds are greater. Therefore, you'll need to adjust your speed and anticipate obstacles earlier. If you're riding alone, that's fairly simple and it just means slowing down a bit.
If you're riding in a group, you need to leave a little more distance between you and the rider in front. However, you don't want to leave such a gap that you lose all drafting benefit. Learning the correct distance to leave takes practice, but above all just remember you need to be cautious.
It's worth remembering that different riders will have different braking speeds - especially if some in your group have disc brakes, and others are using rim brakes. Disc brakes are far less affected by the wet, and those using them will come to a stop much more quickly. If you've got discs, don't slam them on in a bunch, and if you don't... think about getting a bike with discs for the winter and early spring, or keep your brake pads in very good condition!
Watch your immune system
Getting cold and wet doesn't give you a cold. However, it does lower your immune system, so if there is a virus present in your body, you're more susceptible to being brought down by it. Aside from wearing good kit, you can't do much to stay dry when outside, but make sure you get out of wet clothes and into a nice warm shower as soon as you can, and wrap up warm until you feel cosy. You might also want to stock up on these immune system boosting foods, too.
We hope those tips are useful, and that you enjoy the coming season. Of course, it's not all showers and gloom - here are 10 reasons we couldn't WAIT for the clocks to go forward, and a few things we love about spring.