Recent storms have deterred some faithful bike commuters, but others are out there pedaling in the rain and wet. Whether you’re riding on two wheels or four, make safety your first priority. Be extra vigilant and make allowances for diminished visibility and reduced traction due to wet roads.
Before you saddle up next time, check out these rainy-day riding trips from blogger Bicycle to Work:
Watch Out for Slippery Areas
Keep your eyes on the ground and watch for spots that may be more slick than normal. Be extra careful with painted lines or markings on the ground. You know that white line that distinguishes the bike lane? Treat it like fire. That white line is a guaranteed spill. Be extra diligent to scout the area that your tires are going over to make sure you don’t find yourself going sideways in a split second. Other bike commuters have also warned against manholes saying that riding on them can lead to a slippery crash. One last observation – the first rainy day in a long time is the day when the roads are slickest due to oils, grease, and dirt on the roads. Be extra careful riding on the first day of rain.
Puddles Are Not Your Friends
Puddles can hide dangerous holes for your bike to hit. You don’t want to ride into a puddle only to hit a pot-hole and go flying head first. If you have no choice but to go through a puddle take it slow.
Be Extra Visible for Vehicles
Rain doesn’t only make things more difficult for bicyclists, but also those in vehicles. Rain can hinder the vision of a driver and make it much harder for them to see you. Make sure you have your bike lights on, and if you own bright clothing it would be appropriate to wear those as well. Be extra cautious at street crossings making sure that motorists acknowledge you before you cross.
Take the Ride Slower
Rainy days are not the time to try and break any personal records. Take the ride slower, being aware of your surroundings, and making yourself visible to others. In addition, you’ll want to take corners upright. You don’t want to go fast into a corner leaning. The only serious crash I have been in occurred because I took a corner too sharp and leaned too much. The ground was wet, and my bike came down in an instant. It cost me a broken collarbone. Keep upright and go slow on those corners!
Braking in the Rain is Different
When it’s wet out, braking will take longer than when it’s dry. Make sure you apply the brakes earlier than you normally would to accommodate for wet brakes. This is especially important when taking corners. Generally, disc brakes are more effective in wet weather than rim brakes. With this said, rim brakes can be used effectively in the rain. You should feather the brakes to remove water from the rims which will allow you to brake easier. Before you take off riding in the rain, give your brakes an inspection to make sure they are ready to go.
Prepare your Bike
Moisture can corrode and rust your bike and its components. Keep your chain well lubricated and wipe down that bike after rainy rides! It’s not advised, but if you are leaving your bike outside in the rain you’ll want to put a plastic grocery bag over the seat. This way when you get back to your bike you can take it off and have a dry seat.
Don’t Go Beyond Your Skill
Riding in the rain can be fun, but don’t persuade yourself to do it if you feel like it’s beyond your skill. Safety is the most important thing while riding your bike, and it’s true that biking in the rain requires a little more attention, expertise, and handling than a fair weather day. If you’re completely uncomfortable with the idea of bike commuting in the rain you should plan smaller bike rides to test it out and gain confidence. After a few test rides you can familiarize yourself with riding in the rain and get the confidence you’ll need to ride in to work even when the weather is poor.
Be Extra Careful of Motorists’ Blind Spots
This should be a priority on every bicycle ride, but make sure you are extra careful of blind spots that a motorist may have during the rain. Their vision can be impaired from rain on their windshield making it more difficult for them to check their blind spots. Don’t assume that a motorist can see you.