Tips for Cycling in Heavy Rain

Being caught in a downpour mid-cycle can leave you feeling soaked and frustrated. Explore essential gear to stay dry, along with some safe riding techniques for wet roads – because sometimes, the best journeys are the ones that surprise you!
We’ve talked about riding in rain, snow, and thunderstorms. Still, we have yet to discuss the extremes. There is a slight difference between a drizzle and raining cats and dogs. Since we already discussed thunderstorms, today we will leave them aside and concentrate on when God decides to give you a good washing. Now, it might be a good idea to skip the ride if the sky looks like Ragnarok is about to launch. Still, we can’t always avoid heavy rains. Sometimes, they just come for us out of nowhere, and we have to deal with them. So, to help you prepare for this inevitable eventuality, here are eight tips you must follow if you find yourself cycling in heavy rain.

Be extra visible

We will start with the most important one—staying visible. Mind you, being clothed in bright colours is the bare minimum. But when the rain becomes a curtain, this is hardly enough. You need a blinking red light on your back and a strong blinking white light in the front. The blinking part is mandatory, as it will draw attention more easily and get you noticed. Having a reflective rain jacket and elements on your bike will also give you a huge advantage. As you can imagine, having high-end waterproof clothes is mandatory in any sort of wet weather. Losing body temperature while constantly being bombarded by water drops is a sure way to catch a cold at best and get some more serious consequences at worst. So, when investing in waterproof cycling clothes, invest in bright colours with reflective elements. This way, you will be highly noticeable in any conditions, even during heavy rains at night.

Ride more to the middle of the road

Being easily noticeable is essential, as you will be riding more to the middle of the road. Sometimes, you will even have to take the entire lane, as going through puddles is highly dangerous. Roads are usually constructed so that water would flow from the centre to the sides. Naturally, in many cases, this causes puddles to form at the edges of the road –precisely where you are supposed to ride. Moreover, mud from the adjacent ground may spill on the road, making the route highly slippery. Furthermore, heavy rain will wash all sorts of debris and oil from the road, bunching it at the side of the road. This may lead to punctures, and I promise you, changing a tyre while a gazillion litres are clapping on your head is neither fun nor easy. Thus, to ensure your safety, you need to take a more central line on the road, away from the curb. Though counterintuitive, this is far safer than riding to the side of the road.

Stay off busy roads

Considering the conditions and the fact that you will be riding in the middle of the lane most of the time, it’s best to avoid busy roads when possible. This will also help you avoid heavy spraying from the incoming traffic since during heavy rains, no matter how good the infrastructure is, there will be water on the road.
Getting splashed all the time will instantly suck the minimal joy there is from riding under the pouring rain. Moreover, this way, you will enhance your safety, as less conflict on the road will always make for a much safer ride. So, if you don’t know the local area or the alternative roads, find a shelter and check your map.

Avoid roads where landslides may occur

When choosing an alternative road, make sure to choose one where landslides are impossible. During heavy rains, landslides become highly likely, even in places with protection. Moreover, while cars are somewhat protected from small debris, being on a bike, you are much more prone to injuries from small rocks that fall from the side. You have no metal cockpit to protect you from mid-sized rocks. So, if your route goes through a canyon or a place where landslides are known to happen, it’s better to go back rather than risk it during and right after heavy rain.

Wear glasses

Wearing glasses is the closest thing to having a windshield on your bike. Having the means to look without having your eyes bombarded constantly with water is a cornerstone of safe riding. Naturally, during heavy rain, sunglasses with protection higher than Cat. 1 will make it hard to see. So, be sure to invest in a pair of clear glasses for such occasions. However, if the heavy rain hits you unexpectedly, it’s better to keep your sunglasses on and ride slower rather than remove them and be blinded by the constant water spray.

Add mudguards

In this regard, adding a pair of mudguards will help a lot. I know this adds some weight, but that’s a sacrifice you must make, especially if you expect heavy rains. This will reduce the spraying a lot and will improve your comfort significantly. Even small mudguards positioned to protect your face and lower back will significantly improve your riding through otherwise horrid conditions. So, the extra few hundred grams on top are well worth it.

Lower your tire pressure

When the cats and dogs start falling from the sky, and the road becomes more of a river than an actual road, it’s time to prioritize stability over speed. Thus, make sure to lower the pressure on your tyres. This will give you a superior grip on the road and reduce the chance of getting a flat due to the washed debris from the road. Yes, your speed will suffer but come on. Certainly, beating your Strava record can wait for better weather conditions. So, lower your pressure by 5-10 psi, make sure to take the turns slower than usual, and give yourself enough brake time.

Know when to seek shelter

Finally, you must realise there is no shame in quitting mid-ride, waiting for the rain to pass or slowing down. If you don’t see an old man building a giant boat and a line of animals waiting to get on board, chances are, the rain will stop soon. So, just find a suitable place to wait it out. This includes any train station, coffee shop or even a bridge. Just avoid underpasses, as floods can come quickly and swipe you away. Riding should be fun and although we know that quitting is not in the cyclist’s nature, sometimes, it’s better to ride another day rather than get sick or worse. So, keep these tips in mind as in late spring, they may come pretty handy. And, of course, don’t let the rain stop you from enjoying your ride. Just do it carefully.
Planning a ride? Join the eBike revolution and ride smarter, not harder! Visit our store today and take a test ride to feel the difference. Call us today at 949.484.6409. Remember to follow us on Instagram @synapticcycles.
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