Safety Tips for September 2019
Biking in the Rain
Riding in wet weather is unavoidable sometimes, and there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you have the safest ride possible. Here are a few tips for cycling in the rain.
Rain can be dangerous because your brakes will be less responsive, the road surfaces are slippery and visibility is bad. But if one is careful, it can be done. If I can help it, I stay out of the rain. But sometimes during a long ride, it cannot be helped to be caught up in the rain.
Riding in the rain is certainly different. If you approach it with a level head and exercise caution, you'll most likely be fine.
Be cautious, careful and go easier in the rain. "Hammering it" like you might on dry roads is asking for trouble.
If you can’t see 10 feet in front of you, it might be best to get off the road. Stop somewhere for a cup of coffee while you wait out the fog. Similarly, if the wind is blowing so hard the trees look they’re about to uproot and fall, it’s safe to assume you won’t have an easy time staying upright on your bike.
Your cycling rain jacket should be fully waterproof, breathable and a bright yellow, green, orange or pink.
Lights, lights, and more lights.
Buy only waterproof lights. At the least, you need to have a waterproof white flashing light on the front and bright red flashing wate proof lights on the back of you or you bike. If you have extra lights that you can put on your helmet or seat bag add them on.
Cycling Glasses for the rain
It helps to be able to see where you're going, and when it's raining heavily and water is being sprayed up from the road, your vision can easily become fuzzy.
A pair of cycling glasses with clear lenses is a good way of shielding your eyes when cycling in the rain. They keep mud and grit out of your eyes. Some glasses have interchangeable lenses and a yellow tint can boost contrast in low light.
If you find that the rain droplets stick to the lenses making it hard to see through, you could wear a baseball cap under your helmet, which keeps the rain out of your face.
Control your speed and avoid hard braking
In wet weather your should slow your speed down. Sudden hard braking is best avoided as you are more likely to loose your grip on the road and skid. Disc and drum brakes work well in wet weather, but rim brakes do not. Give yourself twice as long to come to a stop as you normally would. Make sure you look up and ahead, anticipate where you might need to stop or slow down, and make moves to do it slowly and well in advance. Apply your brakes smoothly and slowly, decelerating gradually.
Drop your tire pressure
If you drop the pressure in your tires a little, say about 15 – 20 psi, from your normal levels, you can get a lot more grip on the road. The downside to this is you will be that much slower, but this can be a worthwhile compromise if the weather conditions are bad.
Watch out for slippery patches.
Rain can make roads treacherous. Try to avoid puddles, painted lines, and the tell-tale rainbow of oil slicks. If you can’t avoid them, try and avoid applying the brakes or turning when you are on them.
Railroad tracks, manhole covers, bridges or any form of metal are all going to be much more slippery in the rain. Similarly, piles of leaves and painted lines will be a bit slick, as will anywhere you see gasoline on the concrete as the new rain brings up oil and gas left from cars.
Don’t ride through puddles on roads you’re unfamiliar with. The reflection on the water can easily disguise potholes or dips in the road, so your puddle jumping is best left for streets where you’re certain of the contours.
Take care when cornering
Corners are another obstacle you’ll need to take care with. As before, look up and anticipate the corner, and reduce your speed before the corner so you are not applying the brakes going into or around the corner.
Ride consistently and predictably
It’s really important, if you are riding in a big group, to ride consistently and predictably, which means not suddenly slowing down, turning, cutting across riders, etc. These actions not only affect you, they might mean riders around you have to brake suddenly which increases the likelihood of someone skidding or crashing.
Try and enjoy it!
Okay, so it’s not bright and sunny, but think about how much more refreshing it is to ride in the wet than in the blasting, searing heat! If you are feeling a bit miserable, give yourself a treat or snack, and try and stay positive – it will result in a far more enjoyable ride.
And just think, you’ll totally deserve that tasty meal, hot bath and comfortable chair when you finish.