Friday, March 27, 2009

Ugh! It's raining and I'm on my bike!!

Considering the weather forecast for this weekend is calling for rain it seems like a good time to write about riding bikes when it's wet outside.

I'm a fair weather rider and I don't do rain unless I have to. There are times when I don't have a choice, like the Sunday leg of last year's Ride for the Feast. Wow! It really rained hard last year. So here are a few things to consider when riding in the rain:
- There is just no way to be dry on a bicycle in the rain. Don't worry about wearing something that will keep you dry. Wear something that will hold your body heat in when it's wet. Wool is great for this - especially wool socks. Nylon shell jackets work well too. Last year I wore a thing that looked like a shower cap over my helmet. Actually, I think it was a bowl cover, but you get my drift. It had a very high dork factor rating but it really kept my head warm and was easy to carry in my back pocket before it started raining.
- Slow down and stay as close to vertical as possible on turns.
- Wet brakes don't work well. Allow for extra stopping distance.
- Avoid slippery things - especial when braking. These include painted lines, manhole covers, metal plates, sand, gravel, grass, and oily spots in the center areas of lanes.
- Stay farther away from fellow riders to avoid spray and allow extra space for maneuvers and stopping.
- Keep repeating: "I like riding in the rain. I like riding in the rain. I like riding in the rain." Hey, it worked for Dorothy.

When you're done riding in the rain give your bike a gentle but thorough washing. It is especially important to clean your bike's brake pads and relube your chain. Look for excessive wear on your brake pads. Rain and dirt form a slurry between your pads and rim causing pads to wear down rapidly.

Any other thoughts on riding in the rain?

Stay vertical,

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