Don’t let the rain stop you riding your road bike. Whether you are riding in a sportive, a club ride, or just out and about, these top tips for road cycling in the rain will make sure you stay safe, comfortable and in control.
1. Pop on some mudguards
This isn’t just for your benefit, though of course mudguards will stop water flying up your front and back, splashing your face, and soaking you from the get go. Mudguards, particularly on the rear, will also mean you don’t give the person riding behind you a face full of water.
You can get a set of easy to attach (and remove) mudguards such as SKS Race Blades from most bike shops.
2. Slip on some glasses
A pair of glasses with a clear or yellow lens will protect your eyes from flying water, mud, road grit and all the other bits of debris that can be thrown up by bike wheels. Yellow or orange lenses will increase contrast if the light levels are low, which will help you make out lump and bumps in the road more easily.
3. Avoid potholes and puddles
Potholes are bad news for cyclists, and road cyclists in particular. They can cause you to go off course, or in a worse case scenario damage your wheels or make you crash. In the rain, they become trickier still, not just because the reduced grip but because you won’t be able to see if it’s a shallow puddle or gaping chasm of doom. Stay clear!
4. Drop your tyre pressure
By dropping the pressure in your tyres a little, say about 15 – 20 psi from your normal levels, you can get a lot more grip on the road. The downside to this is you will be that much slower, but this can be a worthwhile compromise if the weather conditions are bad.
You could also think about going for wider tyres, so on a road bike this might mean popping on a 28c width tyre rather than a 23c width.
5. Watch out for slippery patches
Rain can make roads treacherous, particularly if it’s been dry for a period of time before hand. Try to avoid puddles, painted lines, and the tell-tale rainbow of oil slicks, and you should be fine. If you can’t avoid them, try and avoid applying the brakes or turning when you are on them.
6. Control your speed and avoid hard braking
Wet weather means you’ll have to be more considered in how you ride and how you control your speed. Sudden hard braking is best avoided as you are more likely to loose your grip on the road and skid. Make sure you look up and ahead, anticipate where you might need to stop or slow down, and make moves to do it slowly and well in advance. Apply your brakes smoothly and slowly, decelerating gradually.
7. Take care when cornering
Corners are another obstacle you’ll need to take care with. As before, look up and anticipate the corner, and reduce your speed before the corner so you are not applying the brakes going into or around the corner.
The widest line around the corner is best as it’s the straightest, so go into the corner wide, cut close to the inside, then exit wide. This might not be possible if there are lots of other people on the road at that point at the same time.
While going around the corner, drop your outside foot to the lowest point and shift your weight over this a little more, as this will increase your grip on the road.
8. Ride consistently and predictably
This is something you can do for other riders on the road. It’s really important, if you are riding in a big group, to ride consistently and predictably, which means not suddenly slowing down, turning, cutting across riders, etc. These actions not only affect you, they might mean riders around you have to brake suddenly which increases the likelihood of someone skidding or crashing.
9. Make sure you have the right kit
A good waterproof jacket will make all the difference to your riding experience in the wet, particularly if you are out for several hours. Waterproof shoe covers, tights, over trousers and gloves are all also good options to go for if you want to be completely protected from the elements.
10. Try and enjoy it!
Okay, so it’s not bright and sunny, but think about how much more refreshing it is to ride in the wet than in the blasting, searing heat! If you are feeling a bit miserable, give yourself a treat or snack, and try and stay positive – it will result in a far more enjoyable ride.
And just think, you’ll totally deserve that tasty meal, hot bath and snuggly bed when you finish.
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