Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Riding in the Rain

This post might be too late as it looks like the week of rain might soon be behind us. However, I am willing to bet that we will all once again be faced with the prospect of riding in the rain. That's right...I said "riding in the rain." There is no reason to think that you have to call off a planned ride just becuase it is raining. Now, I am not advocating that you go for a ride in a torential downpour, but you can ride in these spring showers.

On Monday, Scott, James, Bryan, and I went out on the MNR. As soon as we left the parking lot the rain began to fall. We did contemplate turning around, but talked ourselves out of it. I think we all ended up having a good time and we were glad we rode. One of the best parts about riding in the rain is that so many people don't do it and you can really imagine yourself getting stronger while everyone else is sitting inside and dreading the weather.

Having said all of this, I think there is some information about riding in the rain that I can share. Hopefully, you can employ some of this on your next ride in the rain for a more enjoyable experience.

  • Wear sunglasses. I was unable to wear mine last Monday because it was too dark out, but I kept having to dig dirt out of my eye. It might be worth getting glasses with clear or light colored lenses that you can use for these days. Oakley also make some lenses with a hydrophobic coating that repels water and dirt. They also sell this as an aftermarket treatment for other lenses. I wonder if applying some Rain-X to your lenses would work as well.
  • Wear black socks. Alternatively, you can wear white socks and they will become black socks that you can wear on rain days from then on.
  • Run less pressure in your tires (and make sure your tires are not worn out). I ran 110psi (I usually run 115psi) but I bet I could run a little less pressure. I will say that felt like I had adequate traction throughout the ride. If you think your tires are worn out, get to Tom's and buy some new ones.
  • Brake early. We had some near misses as people didn't compensate for braking with wet pads on wet rims. This might be the hardest part about riding in the rain. Just remember to be thinking ahead and always know your "escape route". BTW, when was the last time you checked your brake pads? You might need to pick some of these up at Tom's as well.
  • Wash your kit as soon as you get home. The white on my shorts looked pretty nasty after the ride, but they did come clean. On a side note, our pads are pretty comfortable when they are soaked in water.
  • After the ride wipe your bike down, clean your tires and rims (lots of brake pad goo on those rims), and be sure to clean and lubericate your drivetrain.
  • Rain jackets are optional. I find that these products do not breathe very well and I over heat when wearing one. If it is not cold outside, I don't think it matters much if you get wet.
  • Wear shoe covers. Most cycling shoes are designed to allow adequate air flow, this means that they fill up with water fast. Some light shoe covers will keep your feet dry and might protect your socks as well. I am not talking about thermal shoe covers but simple lycra shoe covers.

I think that is all the advice I have for now. If you think of something I forgot, please comment on this post.

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