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Riding in the rain

So, since we are having so much of it lately, what are everyones tips for riding in the rain?

32 Replies

RoyBoy, April 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

Wear something very visible: florescent yellow, orange or green.  And put flashing lights on your bike.


ts, April 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

Don’t worry about staying dry – try to stay warm.  I’m taking a medium weight nylon shell, a thin base layer top, arm warmers, leg warmers, and a skullcap.  Last year, I brought just arm warmers and a light shell and was cold on Friday.


Bartaped, April 27, 2011 at 11:35 am

IF you have trouble keeping your feet warm, wear 2 pair of socks and put a bread sack that you cut off short between the layers of socks.

One of the advantages of “Baggin” you always have dry clothes with you to change into if you have a cool rain like last year. Was a life saver last year.


Tony, April 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

This time of year hypothermia is probably the big issue. Wearing cycling cloths in layers. Wearing a quality cycling rain jacket. Don’t worry to much about getting wet. Cycling cloth will dry rapidly once your out of the rain. Street cloths will not. Street cloth will actual make things worse for you. Wear a helmet liner, du wrap or cycling hat under the helmet for short or no hair folks. Otherwise get a helmet cover. Gloves are very important. Even soaked you will have a better grip than no gloves. Cycling socks are a must. Again once the rain stops your socks will dry fast. Especially if you have vented cycling shoes. Street socks will stay soggy. Cycling sock will stay in place while wet too. Cinch you shoe a bit tighter to keep them from slipping. But not to tight. You don’t want your feet to go numb. To protect your eyes have clear riding glasses. I have prescription transition lens. I do nothing special to the bike. Other than keep the chain lubed with Purple Extreme. I carry a small .5 oz bottle on the bike. If theres a chance of rain before I leave. I lube the chain before I go. If I get caught in a storm. I will give the chain a coat out on the road. When riding in the rain there are a few things to be very cautious of. Make sure you have your lights on. Use high intensity lights. I use .5 watt LED tail (Planet Bike Superflash) and 1 watt head (NR Ultrafazer) lights. Wear reflective cloths if possible. Be aware that oils sweat out of road surfaces when it rains. Especially asphalt roads. So slow down when cornering. Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times. Slick roads and wind gusts can make for some hazardous riding. Ride a bit slower than normal and stay to the right. Ride in the right wheel track. It will have the cleanest surface. Do not ride in the middle of the lane. Thats where the most oil is and is the slickest when wet.  So some roads the wheel tracks will channel water. Do not worry about hydroplaning. Bicycles can not hydroplane due to the high speeds required to do so. Also don’t be lead into buying special tires. Tire tread means little to road bikes. Slicks offer the best contact with the road. Most road tires do have some tread on the sides. But it is strictly decorative. If you look closely. There is no tread in the center of the tire. Where the tire actually contacts the road. Bike tires have a round radial surface that naturally cuts through water and pushes it to the side. Car tires have a flat contact with the surface and needs channels to remove the water. Keep your brake pads clean. Wipe your rims and pads off periodically while riding in the rain. Road yuck will build up on the pads and rims. You can really scarf up a set of rims with grit.


jwsknk, April 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

the wet rims require longer stopping distance and the white lines/crosswalks can be slippery due to the glass beads in some of the paints.


Tony, April 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Koolstop has all condition pads that take care of stopping distance. But in general distances will increase. I forgot about the painted lines. They can be very slick. Especial if its fresh paint.


KittySlayer, April 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Here are my gear choices for rainy, cool spring rides. Add or subtract layers as temperatures go up or down.

Start with a cheap ($14us) clear vinyl jacket. Features to look for are a long tail, velcro front and ventilated sides. Now many riders have used these and found that you get almost as wet inside from the sweat as you do from the rain outside. The solution is to CUSTOM TAILOR the jacket with a pair of scissors. Take the scissors and cut off the sleeve so you have a SHORT sleeve (not sleeveless) rain jacket. Cut just below the fabric of your short sleeve jersey. This will keep your shoulders and torso dry while allowing enough air up the sleeves to keep you from overheating and drowning in sweat. Combine the air up the sleeves with the side vents and adjusting the velcro front and you will be comfortable on a rainy spring ride. You will also appreciate the long tail as it will keep your butt dry if you dont have a fender. An added bonus of cutting the sleeves off is that the jacket fits into a jersey pocket better. The jacket will also help keep you warm in the morning until things warm up. One caution is if you start getting warm leave the last few inches of velcro secured. If you open the jacket completely the “hook” portion of the velcro can mess up a pair of shorts pretty quickly

Here is what I would wear, carry on spring ride with the potential of cool temperatures and rain. Helmet (duh!). A cycling cap for warmth and it also has a brim to keep rain off my glasses (clear lenses for rain). Jersey, t-shirt (not cotton), shorts with a good chamois. Since it will be wet with the potential for chafing I apply some Bag Balm as it last longer when wet than other lubricants. Pack your custom tailored rain jacket and a pair of arm warmers. Finally wear a pair of wool socks. If it is raining in the morning and sun is forecast for later you can pack a pair of dry socks for later, they will make you feel like a new man/woman. If the forecast is cold you can add the following as necessary, knee warmers, long fingered knit gloves, shoe covers (or toe covers), long sleeve jersey, ear warmers, light wool skullcap.

Remember your bike, just like your car, it is designed to be ridden outdoors so do not fret over it too much. Wet tires will tend to pick up sharp stuff easier so after each SAG give them a quick spin and visually inspect them for any foreign objects. With the tendency to flat easier as well as the difficultly of patching a tube in the rain it is a good idea to carry two tubes rather than one and also pack spares in your duffle bag to restock stuff on Sunday. Consider a fender too.

If it rained all day Saturday, and you plan to ride Sunday take the insoles out of your shoes and stuff them with some newspaper. Fill both your water bottles and then use them to hose down your bike to remove grit from critical areas. Before you turn in for the night change the newspaper in your shoes. Lube your chain. Check your tires carefully for embedded grit, stones, glass, etc. Bikes are designed to be ridden outdoors however for overnight or while at SAGs a shower cap makes a great seat cover, your butt will keep the saddle dry enough while riding. If you carry a seat bag you may want to unpack it and dry the contents overnight.

Remember the goal when riding in the rain is to stay warm, not dry. If you get both it is a bonus.


RonB, April 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

If you get caught out without all the rain gear mentioned above and you’re getting cold, stop at one of the convenience stores and ask for one of their plastic bags.  Put it inside your jersey (front only) and you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.  Just like the pros do on mountain descents, but they often use newspapers.


Michrider !!!, April 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm


Ride in rain?  Use Fenders!






Ragbrai Nation, April 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I use a rain jacket designed for cyling, i.e. has a hood that pulls over my helmet and velcros tight around the face. Also it has a full-lenth flap that gaurds the closure from wind-driven rain that would otherwise push through it. 

Also you can get wool bike socks to go with leg & arm warmers. They’re not cheap but wool will keep you warm when wet. Cotton will NOT!

If you’re riding in continous rain then eventually you’ll get wet no matter what but rain gear will keep you warmer than you would be otherwise and may prevent hypothermia. 


“Bicycle Bill”, April 28, 2011 at 12:53 am

What ts said — warm is far more important than dry.

Know your braking limitations.
  ◙  at the start of a rain water mixes with the otherwise imperceptible oily film laid down by motor vehicles, resulting in something as slippery as liquid Teflon.  Until there has been enough rain to wash this mixture away, it can be like riding on wet glass.
  ◙  Same goes with your own brakes.  Water on the rims (and even the disc of a disc brake) will affect your stopping distance.  Occasionally feather the brakes to keep an oily film from building up on the rims/disc.

Old cowboys always took care of their horse first; good riders take care of their mount as well.  Make sure you wipe down your bike after the rain is over, and pay special attention to lubing the chain and the pivot points of your derailleurs (a squirt of Tri-Flow or Boeshield is usually good enough to get you through the week) while promising yourself that you will see to it that the bike gets a thorough going-over after RAGBRAI is over.

And while it may look tacky as һell, a large plastic trash bag can, in a pinch, be used as a raincoat/poncho.  And you can buy a whole box of ’em for about 10% of what you’d pay for one of these fancy-schmancy Gore-Tex made-for-cycling rain jackets.  Pull one over your head, poke your head through the bottom and your arms out the sides — one arm to a side, dummy — and use a bungie cord or a hunk of baling twine to tie it loosely around your waist to prevent the dreaded “parasail” effect.



Sandaltan ., April 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

If you are forward thinking plan-ahead type you can duct tape a trash bag or dollar store rain poncho to your bike frame and it will be there when you need it.  Of course wrap the faux rain garment in some plastic before you tape it to your frame.  It will rain ya know.



gordie, April 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm

just grin and bear it and keep goin on!


Michrider !!!, April 30, 2011 at 5:01 am

Sandaltan said: If you are forward thinking plan-ahead type you can duct tape a trash bag or dollar store rain poncho to your bike frame and it will be there when you need it.  Of course wrap the faux rain garment in some plastic before you tape it to your frame.  It will rain ya know.


ST, we could “Duck Tape” an umbrella to the top tube!


Sandaltan ., April 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

And you could Duck Tape a Kurb Kushion to the bike somewhere also.  No END to the possibilities for Komfort.



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