Train in the Rain
By Coach David Ertl
I did something today that I don’t usually do. I headed out for a ride in the rain. You see, it’s been kind of a rainy spring here in Iowa and if I didn’t get my ride in this morning it wasn’t going to happen at all. I had three choices: skip the ride, ride indoors on my trainer, or ride outside in the rain. I had already missed the last two days so skipping my ride wasn’t an option. I have spent more time than I care to recall riding my indoor trainer this winter and spring so I chose to ride outside even though it was raining.
While riding in the rain is not something most of us choose to do, it is a good idea to get some experience riding a bike in the rain. If for no other reason, you will most likely come across at least one day during the seven days of RAGBRAI® when it is raining. It would be good to have ridden in the rain before you have to do it during RAGBRAI. Here are a few tips for wet weather riding:
– Dress appropriately. You might want to invest in a lightweight rain jacket. If it below 65 degrees (F), rain can be chilly. A rain jacket will retain some of your warmth. Be sure to bring a long sleeve jersey and tights in case you do run into a cool rainy day – not likely in Iowa in July but you just never know. Above 65 degrees you are typically warm enough when you get soaked without a rain jacket. Avoid wearing anything cotton when it’s raining – cotton holds a lot of water and will not keep you warm. Also, be sure to wear bright colors when it’s raining so other cyclists as well as motorists can see you. Visibility isn’t as good when it’s raining.
– Be careful when the roads are wet. Wet roads are slippery. Be especially careful around painted lines and metal manhole covers – these are especially slick when wet. If you have to ride over these objects, go in a straight line and don’t brake. Also be very careful crossing wet railroad tracks. Avoid quick and sharp turns when riding on wet roads.
– Don’t ride too closely behind other cyclists in the rain. Your brakes don’t work as well when wet and your stopping distance is greater so give other riders plenty of room. Also, if you follow too closely the rooster tail coming off their back wheel will hit you right in the face. You may also want to wear your sunglasses to keep the water and grit out of your eyes.
– Obviously if it is a downpour or if there is a thunderstorm, riding is not advised. Find shelter until the worst of it passes. Do not stand under trees if there is a thunderstorm either. Try to find a building.
– After riding in the rain, be sure to wipe down your bike. This is best done when it is still wet as it will clean up more easily than the road grime dries on. If nothing else, dry off and lube your chain. It will rust overnight and your bike will squeak the next day and you don’t want to be ‘one of those riders’. Be sure to check your tires. Wet tires pick up sand and grit and glass so be sure they are in good shape after a wet day. Stuff wadded up newspaper (Des Moines Register preferably!) inside your shoes overnight to help dry them out. There’s nothing worse than putting your feet into cold wet shoes first thing in the morning.
So one of these weekends when you would normally have your ride rained out, go ahead and ride a get a feel for riding in the rain. It’s actually not that bad once you get wet. It’s the getting wet part that is most unpleasant. It will give you good experience going into RAGBRAI.
So how did my ride go? Well, once I got thoroughly wet, it stopped raining and the sun was even coming out as I pulled into my driveway. C’est la vie.
If you would like more cycling training information, check out my website www.CyclesportCoaching.com where you will find numerous free articles.
By the way, I also just had a book published, by the name of ‘101 Cycling Workouts’ and as the title suggests, it contains 101 different workouts to improve your cycling, both on and off the bike. Check it out at www.101CyclingWorkouts.com
Coach David Ertl
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach. He coaches individual cyclists, the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and the JDRF Greater Iowa Chapter for the Ride to Cure Diabetes. He is also an NSCA certified Personal Trainer. He can be contacted at Coach@CyclesportCoaching.com .