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Bike Getting Wet Question

Probably a stupid question but I thought I would ask it here anyway. I am relatively new to RAGBRAI and biking frankly. I am not a bike guru/expert but after moving to Iowa several years ago, I just fell in love with RAGBRAI and the experience. So, now I am a bike rider, so that I can ride RAGBRAI.

I have a new tent this year that is a one person small backpacking tent. Anyway, I will not be able to put my bike in there with me like I have before with my big old tent. So, my question is, with all the heavy, heavy dew we experience in July in Iowa, will my bike, chain, gears, etc, etc be ok out each night in the heavy dew and or rain? And, other than a quick wipe down in the morning before I take off for the day, is there anything else I should be doing to my wet bike. I was thinking of bringing a piece of plastic to cover it each night, thoughts??

If it makes any difference, my bike is a 2013 Specialized Secteur Elite, pretty sure its aluminum but again, not a bike expert yet, just a lover of riding and RAGBRAI. Thanks for any info, input or tips, appreciate it!

12 Replies

trek2300, May 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm

If you really love your bike, you’ll let it stay in the tent while you sleep outside under a tarp!

Your 2013 Spec is an alu frame that, if memory serves me, has a Tiagra drive train. If the chain and drive train is well lubed, dew will have minimal impact. Besides, you’ll probably have to lube things numerous times on the ride anyway. That being said, if you have room, covering the bike with a very thin plastic sheet will protect it. But then you have to decide what to do with a drippy plastic tarp in the morning.

Some will argue that a wax based lube won’t last as long as an oil based in wet weather but that can turn into a lengthy argument. Personally, I use wax because I hate chain tattoos but wax is more labor intensive.

More problematic than dew is rain on the road. The drive train will pick up grit from the road and slowly gum things up. At the end of a rainy day, clean the drive train and lube things up. You can’t makes things perfect but even a little cleaner helps.

I just cover the seat at night and, like you, perform a quick wipe down before riding.



William Mugan, May 28, 2018 at 3:19 pm

I don’t do anything. The bike sits outside in the rain or dew.

If the seat is wet in the morning, I just wipe it off with my gloved hand and go.

Enjoy your ride.


Mike, May 28, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Welcome to Iowa, and welcome to RAGBRAI. What a great experience it is, and a GREAT route this year. We simply park our bikes outside of our tent – and will lube the chain and gear throughout the week. Quite honestly, if your bike can sustain the riding rain storm or day showers, which we certainly expect, then the evening dew or even rain will not bother it. We have shower caps that we put over the seats at night, and wipe the frame and handle bars with a towel in the morning. And roll. Enjoy and ride safe!!


Tom Olinger, May 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm

You can cover your bars with a tall kitchen bag and a large baggie for your seat (or buy a seat cover). The bike can also be parked upside down on it’s bars and seat. I bring a small amount of chain lube and paper towels to redo the chain; especially if it rains and you ride through it.


jeffreydennis, May 28, 2018 at 4:41 pm

A shower cap for the seat over night can be nice. Keep your chain clean and lubed. I bring a dry and a wet formula but I’m a bit OCD about my drivetrain.


jay williams, May 28, 2018 at 8:03 pm

Never turn your bike upside down (rule #49).
A cheap plastic grocery bag on the seat at night keeps it dry, and folds up to the size of a walnut. Inspect mechs if you are not too hung over.
Use paper towels or a soft cotton cloth to wipe down your loyal steed in the morning, then kiss her for all the coming pleasure she will give you.


KenH, May 28, 2018 at 8:29 pm

I am firmly in the don’t do anything camp. Ok, I too wipe dry the part I will be sitting on but that is it. Unless something breaks, punctures, or goes out of adjustment I do nothing at all to the bike all week long.


SFC JKL 2, May 28, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Vinyl doesn’t absorb liquid, so unless you have a leather seat (like a Brooks) you are wasting your time covering it. You should be lubing your chain every couple days anyway, so I’ll call that one a wash too. If you want to wipe down the rest of the the bike, that’s up to you. The only real issue will be if you ride the gravel loop or it rains and the bike gets covered with road debris. Then a cleaning will be in order.


jwsknk, May 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

I usually lay it next to one side of my tent and stake the rain flyover what it will cover. Brooks saddle for sure gets under


John, May 29, 2018 at 12:19 am

[quote quote=1287034]Never turn your bike upside down (rule #49).[/quote]

LOL, RAGBRAI is like the anti-Velominati (rule #57).


Amanda, May 29, 2018 at 8:52 am

I use to bring a plastic tablecloth, covered my bike and secure it with clothespins. I never knew what to do with it on the morning since it was covered with dew. Didn’t want to put it back in my bag. I think i bungeed it to the outside of my bag. Now I leave it next to a tree or under an extended roof, if possible. This is my 20th RAGBRAI and I really haven’t had any bike issues other than an occasional flat tire.


Uncle Kraig, May 29, 2018 at 10:58 am

Thanks much for all the responses, especially those of you on here who I know have been around the block a few times with RAGBRAI. This being only my 3rd go round, I am still (and always) learning. But, it sounds from your comments, like many things with me:), I may be over thinking it a bit. That being said, I’ll keep my seat dry, try to put my bike under my rain fly, give her a quick wipe down in the morning and not worry about much else but enjoying the ride! Thanks again. Say hello if you see me, I will have a RAGBRAI paper license plate that says Riding Solo :)


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