The PlusZone > Guide
10 Things to remember when road cycling in wet weather
It’s inevitable that there are going to be a number of riding days in winter when it’s going to be wet outside on a training or weekend ride day. Instead of heading back to bed or resigning yourself to the trainer you can get out and enjoy it if you’re armed with the right knowledge. Here’s 10 things to remember to make it enjoyable:
1. Your tyres only provide traction for one activity at a time: braking, steering or accelerating. Don’t risk losing traction by braking or sprinting around bends. Brake on the approach, flow round, ride away.
2. Your brakes will be a lot less efficient in the wet, especially if you have rim brakes and are on very wet roads. This means your stopping distance in the wet is greatly increased so you’ll need to leave plenty of room to slow down and stop. You may need to “pump” the brakes a little to dry the rims.
3. A back wheel slide under braking can be controlled with practice. However, a front wheel slide isn’t quite as easy to recover from. So take it easy on that front brake and use more emphasis on the rear brake. If you’re on very slippery surfaces keep pedalling while you use the back brake to prevent the wheel from locking.
4. Drivers may have problems seeing through wet or steamy windscreens when it’s raining. This means you need to take extra care to be visible with front and rear lights on your bike and helmet. Bright clothing will also help.
5. Pedestrians are doing their best to get where they’re going in without getting wet. They may have rain hoods up or have visibility shielded by umbrellas. This will means they may not see you coming so you have to be extra vigilant (and visible) and be prepared to avoid them.
6. Warm and waterproof clothing will make you much more comfortable so you can concentrate on riding safely. Wear good gloves and overshoes as well as a waterproof jacket. If you wear glasses consider wearing a hat with a peak to help keep the rain off of them.
7. Newly laid tarmac may be greasy and slippery so you need to be extra cautious on new roads. Also if a stream crosses your path it may be bringing sand and gravel with it which can be slippery and unexpected especially on a bend. To avoid loss of traction ride straight through a stream rather than turning through. Puddles on the other hand may hide a deep pot hole or other obstruction so it’s best not to ride through them at all - especially if you can't see the bottom.
8. If you’re a regular commuter consider fitting mudguards for the winter season. They will stop the spray into your face off the front wheel and the wet strip up your back from the rear wheel.
9. Avoid these slippery things where possible: Painted markings, metal drain covers and manholes, metal studs and cats eyes, rainbow coloured oil splotches, wet leaves, wooden surfaces, mud.
10. Make sure your bicycle is properly prepared by checking your tyre pressures, making sure everything is lubricated and correctly adjusted. And after your ride give the bike some love with a quick wash and or a dry down and relube of the chain. It will extend the life of your bike and prepare it for the next ride.
Remember riding in the wet will become more acceptable and easier to handle the more you do it. While nothing beats riding on a crystal clear sunny day, as long as you are well prepared and cautious there is no reason wet weather should stop you getting out on your bike, enjoying the outdoors and improving your strength and fitness year round.