Spring is quickly approaching and with it, at least in some parts of the country, comes seasonal rains, snow melt, and slick roads. Whether you are an experienced cyclist or a beginner, spend enough time in the saddle and your chance of getting caught in a rain shower increases no matter the season. Wet and undesirable road conditions will not get the best of you if you are prepared.
Here are some tips for cycling on wet roads:
Be cautious in the first moments of a storm as that is when roads are the most slippery (especially if it hasn't rained in a long time). Oil and water mix to make the road surface dangerous.
Keep in mind that painted lines or other road markings, metal manhole covers or grates, and piles of leaves will be super slick. Avoid riding through puddles as there is high potential for hidden hazards lurking (like road debris or a deep hole).
Apply your brakes earlier than you would in dry conditions and leave plenty of room to stop. Brakes are less efficient when wet. It could take a full revolution of your wheels for the brake pads to squeegee the water from the rims and begin to stop the bike.
Brake early, before you start turning, not while in the middle of a turn. To help prevent your back wheel from locking up, keep pedaling as you use the back brake.
Be wary of pedestrians with hoods up or carrying umbrellas. They may not see you and could step off the sidewalk into your path.
Remember that car drivers’ visibility is decreased in poor weather. Be obvious to them! Make sure you have proper bike safety lights and wear bright clothing. Grab a rain jacket for you and a plastic bag for your phone. If you wear glasses, consider wearing a cap or hat under your helmet.
If you are worried about looming inclement weather, take the preventative step of lowering the air pressure in your tires before you ride (more rubber in contact with the road equals more traction).
Riding in a rainstorm may not be ideal, but it does not have to mean no bike ride. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you will have post-ride as you think to yourself, “I got out there today!” Just take the extra care to be safe and cycling in the rain will become second nature.