December is halfway through and depending what your stance is about water falling from the sky, this is what we would call “rainy season”.
This time of gear also coincides with, “Oh Crap. We’re are all those accessories I rarely use?” season.
Now that I’ve been to a few of these wet parades, it isn’t too difficult to get yourself prepped for a little moisture.
Part of my renaissance the past year was shifting to this bikebacking semi-reality, but even on the bikes I have that aren’t set up for rain I find no big deal.
All this takes is a little bit of planning and you’ll find riding in the rain can actually be fun!
Here are a few insider tips that’ll get you through cycling in the rain for the forty days and forty nights:
- Have a plastic bag handy. Maybe the worst thing to happen before you start your ride is the realization that you have to sit on a wet saddle. No matter how hard you try to dry it off it’s still wet and you know it. Simple solution: always cover your seat when parked with a plastic bag. That’s a pro tip that’s just pennies on the dollar!
- Wider tires. If you’re going out on your race bike with your 23mm tires, they may make your grip really difficult to handle out there. You might want to go with at least 28mm, but Mr. CiclaValley typically rides his cyclocross under these conditions armed with 35mm. One day, Mr. CiclaValley would love to get his hands on one of those Surly five inch tire bikes, but if you have to dream like me, maybe you should….
- Lower your tire pressure. Real simple. I typically reduce the printed tire pressure recommendation by almost 20%-30%. You get a little more grip with that and if you feel comfortable let a little more out. And yes, you should have bought your own pump by this sentence.
- Puddles: Agent of death! It’s tough to avoid puddles altogether, but it’s impossible to know what lurks beneath. Cracks, glass, potholes, painted lines and other wipeout sponsors are easily hidden from view. On rainy days, I tend to ride the familiar where I know where all the potholes lie.
- Foam butt. It can be a bit difficult to make out at first, but you could be on a ride with someone when you notice a soapy volume get discharged around their posterior. If your first thought that it originates from a disease, that’s okay. We’ve all been there. Use a little too much detergent and you’ll provide your friends with hours of entertainment, but not you.
- Take the lane! While we like to ride in the few bike lanes we have, most of them are gutter adjacent, meaning there may be some trashy build up there. Whenever the lane isn’t suitable, it’s perfectly legal to ride in regular traffic. Remember to hold your line. There’s nothing worse than weaving in and out of the debris unpredictably.
- Invest in a waterproof backpack. This isn’t sidestepping as much as having to buy other rain specific necessities as there are plenty of bags out there that are stylish and functional enough that you can use it all year. I’ve had plenty of luck with the Timbuk2 bags, but try a couple out before you commit. I tend to go with the larger bags since you’ll probably want to err on the side of caution in terms of bringing enough clothes.
- Ass savers. There’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you complete a ride in the rain, but that can be totally negated when you start walking around with that questionable stripe up your butt. Maybe this is a small detail, but even pros use them just to be safe. These are just little pieces of plastic, so you’re best to buy them off the web for cheaper than a Big Mac. And you’ll lose them too, so buy a handful.
If you’re going to ride without an ass saver, then don’t wear white!
- Stopping mindset. Breaking will take longer. That’s a given. Cars also have the same problem while coupled with poorer decision making skills under these conditions. In other words, give yourself extra space in case something hits the fan. Then give a little more.
- Get rain gear, but don’t break the bank. This sounds like simple advice, but a lot of people don’t take it because it rains so infrequently and no one wants to spend the money. If you look on ebay, you can grab a jacket, pants AND shoe covers for under $50. You could definitely spend more, but you’ll feel like a genius when you need them.
There’s no good way to show an Ass Saver
- Light it up. We all know it’s super hard for you to see in the rain, so assume drivers have the same problem. First off, a fluorescent jacket is a great place to start that’ll give plenty of surface area as a visual cue. Not only would I advise using your bike lights it the day, but add a couple extras to your outfit. I always try to find a place on my helmet and backpack to add an extra rear light.
- Add even more water on your bike? When you’re done with your ride, I like to give it a quick hose down to wash off whatever added gunk accumulates. Make sure to lube it up before you do your next ride…after it dries up.
Riding in the rain isn’t impossible. It just takes a little acceptance and some practice. Sack up Angelenos. Rain riding is fun!