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Riding In The Rain

The problem is you'll get wet

This article first appeared in the Winter 1997 edition of the Bicycle Habitat newsletter.


Ask Hal: Just Ridin' in the Rain
by Hal Ruzal

The problems with rain riding are:
a) you'll get wet,
and b) you may slip.

To deal with getting wet, buy a rain jacket. The cheaper ones cost around $25 and are made of plastic. They'll keep you dry but make you sweat - not much of a trade-off. The better ones are made of Gore-Tex or Entrant. These fabrics are breathable (hot air that'll make you sweat can escape) but impermeable to rain. The only problem with these garments is the high price, well over $100. You will also need to follow the care instructions and not deviate from them. For light, drizzly rain don't wear a rain jacket but a wool jersey instead. Wool will feel much more comfortable, keep you warm, and by virtue of the properties of the material, wick moisture away from your body.

Rain pants will keep you dry but have a tendency to get very dirty from chain oil. They also tend to get ripped on the nose of the saddle and get torn by the chainwheel. I use wool cycling tights instead, with much better results.

Wool and Gore-Tex socks will help keep your feet more comfortable in a deluge. Your gloves should also have a degree of water resistance. A helmet cover or wool cycling cap also works wonders for keeping the head dry and warm.

Traction on wet roads is difficult at best. Always remember the motto, "Never stand up." Try not to turn on any metal gratings or plates or on any painted road surface. If you do, you will crash. Remember, your brakes will not stop as quickly in the rain, and if you have steel wheels, TAKE THE SUBWAY IN THE RAIN! Your brakes will not stop the bicycle in time to prevent an accident. Fortunately, there are few bicycles left with steel wheels.

Remember to clean your bike after a rainy ride and remove any brake pad residue from your rims with Fantastik or another cleaner. Of course the sun will probably shine tomorrow.