Let It Rain!by Susan Otcenas
Here in Portland, we've had our one snowfall for the season but we have several months of rain ahead of us before our perfect summer weather arrives. With that in mind, we thought we'd offer up a few simple tips to help you have a BLAST riding in the rain!
- Brake Early
Your stopping distance while riding in wet weather will be greatly increased (unless you have a bike with disc brakes). If you are in a situation where you might need to come to a sudden stop, lightly pulse your brakes to "squeegee" off the water on the rims in advance of actually needing to brake hard.
- Light It Up
Even during the daytime, a flashing red tailight and a front headlight can help other road users see you better. You should also wear brightly colored clothing with plenty of reflectivity to enhance your visibility.
- Avoid Puddles, Paint, Plates and Plant Debris
Puddles can be surprisingly deep and can hide potholes, rocks and even roadside curbs. The white fog line and other painted features on the road can be slippery when wet and should be avoided. Use caution when rolling over manhole covers and metal plates in the roadway. And a final word of warning: leave the leaves alone! Wet leaves and other debris on the side of the road can cause you to lose control, especially when turning or going around curves.
- Stay Alert
You aren't the only one who can't see as well when it is dark and rainy. Assume that motorists do not see you and exercise even more caution than usual while playing in traffic.
- Take Your Time
Riding slower gives you more time to detect and safely react to roadway hazards.
“There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
10 Gear Recommendations for Wet Weather Riding
Fenders dramatically reduce the impact of the road spray kicked up by your bike. Without fenders, water from the front wheel soaks your feet and lower legs, while spray from your rear wheel leaves a characteristic "skunk stripe" of mud and grit up your back and in your shorts. If you've ever finished a long rainy ride and found your chamois pad full of road grime, you know what I'm talking about!
Fenders are available in a huge range of styles and sizes to fit almost any bike. Here are some the leading fender manufacturers:
A properly sized fender (you can add mudflaps) also makes you a polite rider on group rides -- no one wants to ride behind someone who is sending up a rooster tail of cold muddy water.
In addition to shielding you and those around you from the spray, fenders are also crucial protective equipment for your bike itself. All that dirt and muck gets into your headset, bottom bracket and drivetrain and causes premature wear.
In rainy Oregon, many of us have a dedicated "rain bike" that has fenders permanently mounted. For those of you in less wet climes, or who only rarely ride in the rain, several companies manufacture fenders ("race blades") that can quickly and easily be put on and taken off a bike.
If you think fenders aren't cool, you haven't seen these works of art.
- Waterproof Jacket
- pit zips or other extra ventilation options,
- extended cuffs that can open up to provide airflow up your arms,
- a back vent to allow the air that enters through the cuffs and pit zips to flow around your body and out your back without "puffing up" the jacket too much,
- and a long "tail" on the back of the jacket to cover your butt when you are hunkered down in the cycling position.
- Waterproof Pants
- zippers on the lower leg so you can pull the pants on over your shoes,
- velcro adjusters on the lower legs to keep the pants from "ballooning" and getting caught in your chain,
- stretch panels or other features to allow for flexibility in the hip and knee areas,
- reflective piping for increased visibility.
- Booties and Shoe Covers
- Winter Boots
- Waterproof Gloves
- Foot and Hand Warmers
- Helmet Cover
- Anti-Fog Lens Drops or Wipes
- Reflective Bits