I am NOT a rainy weather cyclist, but I know many of you are and thought I would pass along these tips recently mentioned in Road Bike Rider. Perhaps if others have ideas you can share them and make this an even more useful message thread as a reference for folks...? www.roadbikerider.com/top
"First, here are a couple of rain jackets we've reviewed in the recent past. If you don't already have one, they come in handy on rides where you just can't avoid the wet stuff for a sustained period of time. You don't have to buy these particular jackets, but rather see what the reviewer thinks are important features to look for in a jacket -- and for how he uses the jacket (which types of rides, etc.):
Some cyclists follow the rule: I don't mind riding in the rain if I get caught out in it, but I prefer not to start a ride when it's raining. Sometimes, though, it's unavoidable. I've done a mountain century in the rain twice. It's something I train hard for, have to drive a ways to get to, and a ride I’m going to do come hell or – well, high water!
Those who do regularly ride in the rain also often use temporary, snap-on fenders to keep spray at bay. It helps keep your bike, and you, a bit cleaner. We've got reviews of a few fenders on the site as well. As a Premium member, you have access to all our reviews.
Then Keep These Riding Tips in Mind
Now, a few tips for when you're on your bike and it's raining:
The pavement is often most slick for the first couple of minutes of rain, as the rain tends to "free" the oils on the road, etc. So be especially careful then.
The same holds true when rolling over anything painted on the road, as it tends to be slicker than the road surface
In general, slow down a bit, as your brakes won't work as well, meaning it will take you longer to scrub speed, and to stop; and slow down on corners of any sharpness.
Give yourself extra distance if following another rider, for the same reasons.
If you can do so, ride a bit to the side of the rider you're following, to avoid the "rooster tail" or spray off their bike tire (once you're soaked to the bone, though, even that doesn't matter too much. I had my wettest ride ever a couple weeks ago on a fast group ride I do every week. We rode in a peloton and pacelines the entire ride because "you can't any wetter.")
Re: braking, I like to "modulate" my braking by squeezing and letting go, squeezing and letting go. This helps "squeegee" water off the braking surface and allows better contact with the pad on the rim -- especially important on downhills!
If it's warm enough (for me, that's about 65F), I would almost rather not mess with a rain jacket, as they are saunas inside. No jacket has yet been made that is really and truly "breathable." But that's personal preference. (On that mountain century I mentioned, I would take the jacket off for the climbs, put it back on for the descents.)
Those are a few tips to get you started. I'll let Coach Fred take over from here!
Coach Fred: Also Consider a Rain Bike
I think John just about covered it. With the amount of rain Atlanta has received this summer, he's now an expert!
I live in arid western Colorado, so most of the time the pavement is dry except in thunderstorms that dump a lot of water in a short time. But I also ride quite a bit in the Seattle area so am accustomed to wet rides.
So I'd add two things:
First, if you ride often where it's wet, a dedicated "rain" bike with full fenders, as opposed to snap-on models, is a good idea. Fenders keep you much drier and also keep spray from coming off the rear wheel into the face of anyone who's drafting on you. In Seattle, riders without a good full-coverage rear fender aren't welcome on group rides.
For my rain bike I have a relatively inexpensive Specialized Tri Cross with an aluminum frame. Equipped with cheap plastic fenders and low gearing for the steep hills near Seattle, it has performed yeoman duty for several years with minimum maintenance.
Second, there's no substitute for experience when it comes to wet pavement. I find that after dozens of wet rides, I have a much better feel for the amount of traction I can depend on in wet conditions and don't have to think about every corner quite as much.
And, Finally, a Postscript
After reading Coach Fred’s response, it struck me that the use of fenders and dedicated rain bikes is very much a geographical issue. Just as Fred doesn’t have much need for them in arid Western Colorado, neither do we Sun Belters – in normal years, at least! You’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of roadies around these parts who use fenders very often. The weather is typically nice enough that you just don’t need them. (Which is why, as group, roadies in the Southeast U.S. were particularly whiny this summer! Yes, count me among them.)
Also, Fred is absolutely right about learning from doing. If you never ride in the rain, you’ll never learn to ride in the rain. Same goes for every aspect of cycling – pacelines, climbing, group rides, etc., etc. Get out there and mix it up, in other words."
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