As the weather inevitably gets colder, cloudier and rainier, many of us are tempted to hang up our bikes and hop on a bus or in a car. Riding a bike — for fun, transportation or exercise — has positive benefits which, when you think about it, can outweigh the perceived discomfort of riding in rainy weather. While riding on a sunny day can seem more enjoyable, a few easy changes to your attire, bike, riding style and attitude can make a rainy day ride just as (maybe even more!) fun.
Outfit your bike
It might seem unintuitive, but the biggest source of wetness isn’t water falling from above — it’s from the spinning of your tires. Fenders are your best way of combating this. Visit your local bike shop and consider picking up some full fenders that cover most of your back wheel and at least the rear section of your front wheel. Mud flaps on the fenders are an added bonus to keep your feet (and your friends riding behind you) nice and dry.
First things first — a good rain jacket is key. Consider a jacket made of a bright/reflective material that has proper ventilation (keep an eye out for a jacket with zippers under the armpits). While a good set of fenders should keep your bottom half dry, you might also consider waterproof pants, a rain cape or shoe covers. Waterproof fabric tends to be windproof as well, which means that it can be easy to sweat more than usual when riding. I find it helps to ride a little more slowly to keep my heart rate down and body temperature comfortable.
Think a little further ahead
Think of the phrase, “slippery when wet.” While a wet road can feel the same as a dry one, there are situations when you need to think a step or two ahead to keep cruising comfortably. If you ride a bike with rim brakes, your brakes need more time to generate friction on wet rims. To combat this, use your brakes earlier than usual and apply pressure gradually. Also, watch out for things like sewer access covers, thick road paint and mud, which get especially slippery and can make taking corners a little more exciting than needed.
It’s all a matter of perspective
Having grown up in Southern California, the rainy months of the Northwest really took a toll on me when I moved here. I felt like aspects of my life had to come to a stop because of the weather. But, after a while, I began trying to look at the rain as less of a barrier and more of a challenge. Rather than focusing on how I would rather be dry, I like to think about how I am doing something that I enjoy, regardless of Mother Nature.
Anyone can be a fair weather pedaler. It takes a little more determination to ride all year round, but in the end, I think it’s worth it.
Keep riding, keep exploring and prove that a little rain can’t slow your roll! For extra inspiration, prizes and bragging rights, sign up for our 2016 Ride in the Rain Challenge!