You’ve probably noticed a recurring theme lately while preparing for your late afternoon ride…Rain! To say the recent moisture is a welcome sight for our state after a dry and dusty summer is an understatement. But don’t let it dampen your training as you put the final touches on your fitness for those end of summer goals. Here are some helpful hints for riding in the wet.
Know Before You Go – Always keep an eye on the skies…or the internet. Many resources such as the Weather Channel or Weather Underground now provide in-depth forecasts for outdoor activities. Smart phones give many options for weather apps, one we use at OES is Active Forecast.
Layers, Layers, Layers – Remember what you mom used to tell you? You can always take layers off and put them back on as conditions change. Invest in a good set of arm warmers and knee/leg warmers. A light weight rain jacket is also helpful to block the wet and the wind alike. One with zippered vents can help you to better regulate temperature. If you have to take the jacket off but don’t have room for it in your pockets tuck it into the front of your jersey. A set of waterproof shoe covers can help to keep your feet dry. In a pinch, plastic grocery bags over your socks can do the trick.
The Wheel Deal – At one time only available to a select few professionals, full carbon wheels have become more and more common in the amateur ranks. While they provide the benefits of lightweight and improved aerodynamics one area in which they are lacking is braking, especially in the wet. If you’re expecting rain on your ride, especially if your chosen course includes long descents, you may want to consider using wheels with an aluminum braking surface. This will provide stronger, more consistent braking in the wet.
Under Pressure – Proper tire pressure can give you more grip and a smoother ride. In wet conditions consider running slightly lower pressures in both front and rear tires to enhance cornering. 5-10psi lower should do the trick.
Don’t Wait to Brake – Realize that no matter what wheels you choose, braking will be compromised in the wet. Think ahead and give yourself extra time to slow down or stop. Applying the brakes lightly at first will help shed water and grime from rims and pads. Then you’ll be able to apply more pressure for quicker decelerations.
Smooth and Upright – Take extra care when cornering in the wet. Scrub speed off early. Keep the bike more upright, being careful not to lean the bike over too much. Hold a steady line through the turn, stay relaxed and avoid jerky or excessive corrections.
Wash & Dry & Lube – While regular cleaning and maintenance of your bike is crucial to extend the life of components, it’s especially important following a ride in wet weather where your bike will pick up more dirt and road grime. Start with a gentle rinse from a garden hose to wash off excess grit before wiping down with a soapy sponge. Avoid high pressure sprayers, especially around hubs and bottom brackets where the water can penetrate bearing seals. Use a soft bristled brush to scrub your chain and cassette. Give everything one last rinse and then lube your chain for smooth, quiet running. Give the lube a little time to work its magic then wipe off any excess with a dry rag so it doesn’t attract excess dirt on your next ride.
Be Smart! – Always think safety first. If conditions become severe look for a safe place to wait it out before continuing on your journey.