Love it or hate it, all cyclists eventually end up riding in the rain. Fortunately, there are lots of tricks to making the experience of wet weather cycling more enjoyable and safer. Here we offer pro tips about what you should do before, during and after your next rainy ride.
Before your ride
Start with a warm, wicking base layer such as a wool jersey, add intermediate insulating layers if needed and top it all off with a rain jacket. When it comes to jackets and tights, know the difference between water resistant and waterproof. Water resistant clothing tends eventually soak through but is more breathable while less permeable waterproof garments are typically better at keeping the wet out at the cost of not breathing as well.
To keep your extremities dry, don waterproof gloves and cycling socks or shoe covers. For added warmth on the cold, wet days, add chemical hand and toe warmers inside your gloves and shoes. Or use a pair of rechargeable electric heated insoles in your shoes.
Last but not least, something as simple as a pair of the light, but highly portable Rainlegs will help your upper legs stay dry.
See and Be Seen
Poor visibility comes along with wet conditions, so it’s important to do what you can to improve your chances of being seen by passing motorists and other road or trail users. Wear reflective or high visibility clothing, and add lights and reflectors to your bike. You’ll also see better if you use clear or rose tinted lenses in your glasses instead of the dark lenses typical of sunglasses.
Avoid road spray and trail muck coming up and off your wheels by adding front and rear fenders to your bike. Many modern fenders feature clever attachments for easy mounting and removal, which is ideal if you don’t want to permanently install them.
Road Cycling Rain
During your ride
Adjust Your Braking Behavior
Wet conditions mean less traction so you’ll need to allow greater stopping distances and take your corners more slowly. Start to brake sooner and modulate your braking to reduce the chance that your wheels will lock up and subsequently slip out due to broken traction. Also scrub speed before corners rather than braking in them. Finally, don’t brake on slippery surfaces like painted lines on roads and on metal grate and wooden bridges. These become like ice when wet.
When you get wet, you’re more susceptible to getting cold. Hypothermia can quickly become a real issue in cold, wet conditions. So keep moving and avoid prolonged stops because your body naturally produces heat while you exercise.
Avoid Slick Spots and Puddles
Puddles can hide potholes or other road debris that can cause flats and crashes. Pedal around puddles if possible. Likewise, avoid visibly slick spots such as where you see residues of oil or gas on the road.
After your ride
Change into dry clothes as soon as possible after you stop riding. You’ll not only stay warmer but also healthier by eliminating conditions favorable to skin infections. Once changed, don’t let your wet clothes linger; instead rinse them outside using a hose to remove grime then put them directly in the laundry for a more thorough cleaning.
Clean and Lube Your Bike
It’s much easier to get dirt and road grime off your bike before it dries on. Use a hose, soap and a brush, sponge or cloth for best results. Once you’ve cleaned your bike, don’t just put it away. Be sure first to lube all moving parts like your chain, pedals and any accessible cables. Your bike will then be much more likely to work well for your next ride.
Dry Your Gear
Don’t forget to dry out your small bits such as the contents of your jersey pockets, saddle bags and backpacks. Your helmets and shoes will also hold up better over time if you leave them out to air dry. Removing insoles and stuffing your shoes with old newspaper is a time tested trick for speeding up the drying process.
Having a great ride or race on a bike isn’t just about your body performing optimally; it also requires your mind to be healthy and work well. Recent studies attribute 80% of success in sports to physical factors like fitness and skill and 20% to psychological factors.
Read on for tips about what you can do to boost your own performance through psychology.
Build Strong Support
The best riders draw upon a strong support network. Think parents, significant others, coaches, friends, teachers and teammates. A good support crew is always there for you – whether you are doing well or struggling. They are there for you when things are good and when things are bad.
Let’s consider the example of a supportive parent. Your mom or dad is going to love you, no matter whether you win that Olympic gold medal or finish last in your local championship race. Yes, he or she will celebrate with you if you do make the podium, but they’ll also take care of you when you are sick, injured or just feeling down. And it’s their enduring support that is so important – because they are with you through your tough times, they best appreciate and help you celebrate your good times.
If you really want to accomplish something, set a goal. Write it down and be explicit. Plot your path toward achieving that goal. Break the effort up into small, attainable steps and work on them one by one. There’s nothing like a well-defined goal to give you the motivation needed to accomplish it.
Let’s say, for example, that you struggle to push yourself to train throughout the winter months when it’s cold, dark and often precipitating. Set a goal to do well at a spring or early summer event, and then plan your training to build up for that event. It will be easier to go to the gym or head outside and ride if you have a purpose.
Visualize Your Success
Top pros don’t want until race day to mentally get themselves on the podium. In the months, weeks and days leading up to a big event, they visualize themselves performing well in their target event. They mentally practice what they will think and feel and visualize in their mind what they will do ahead of the big day so that when that day comes, it’s familiar.
For example, imagine you are training for a 20km time trial. Set aside time during training to sit quietly with your eyes closed and mentally run through what you will experience the day of the race. Visualize what you do before, during and after the time trial. What will you eat for breakfast? What will you wear? How will you warm up? What will you think and feel in the race? How will you look and feel on the podium afterward? Imagine yourself preparing well and then pushing through the difficulties of the time trial to get that personal best or to make that podium.
Believe in yourself and what you can do on a bike. Confidence inevitably arises when you work on the factors mentioned above. When you have a good support network, when you’ve set reasonable goals and trained accordingly and when you’ve visualized yourself meeting those goals ahead of time, you’ll feel good about yourself and be much more likely to actually achieve your goals.
Injuries are an inevitable part of cycling – broken collarbones, road rash, concussions, compromised backs, inflamed tendons and fractured arms and legs are among the most common. The road back to recovery and full strength can be longer or shorter depending on the location and type of injury, but cyclists can make their comeback more quickly with strategic approaches to recovery and training.
Before getting back to any type of riding or training, it’s important to get the “all clear” from doctors and to follow their medical advice regarding what is and isn’t ok. For example, with some injuries such as head injuries, training of any sort and/or at high intensities may be prohibited for a period of time. In addition to getting back on the bike, doctors may also recommend complimentary rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy, massage or yoga.
Cyclists commonly compensate for injuries by changing how they sit on a bike and/or pedal. Lower extremity injuries are especially likely to affect pedal stroke. Think, for example, of a broken leg or ankle – it takes a while to first build back up to weight bearing capacity and then still more time to rebuild lost muscle strength from any muscles that may have atrophied during the healing process. Upper body injuries are less likely to but do still sometimes affect the pedal stroke, especially if the cyclist is unable to lean normally on an injured hand, arm, wrist or shoulder and thus sits askew on the saddle.
Training with ROTOR’s INpower and 2INpower systems and Q-Rings can help. Power meters enable cyclists to detect, measure and correct any imbalances in the pedal stroke throughout the injury recovery process. They can be used on a bike ridden on a trainer or on the open road or trail.
ROTOR’s INpower power meter accurately collects power data using frequent sampling via strain gauges located in the crank axle and comes with user-friendly software for interpreting the data. It’s available in a variety of crank lengths for use on road, mountain and triathlon bikes. 2INpower for road and tri bikes goes a step further with additional strain gauges placed on the right crank arm, thus providing power output data for each leg independently.
Before getting back to any type of riding or training, it’s important to get the “all clear” from doctors and to follow their medical advice regarding what is and isn’t ok.
It’s important not to rush back to training at pre-injury power levels. Be patient and diligent and give the body time to heal properly before gradually increasing the power to previous levels. Cyclists who push themselves before they are fully recovered run the risk of setbacks and having to wait all over again through a new injury recovery process.
Prioritize pain-free pedalling over power. Then start monitoring power for a consistent output throughout the pedal stroke and between left and right legs to encourage proper pedal stroke. Because cycling is a very repetitive motion, it’s important NOT to retrain the muscles and nervous system to adapt to poor pedalling biomechanics that may have resulted from an injury. Reinforcing bad habits leads to lower long term power output and increases the risk of re-injury or the onset of other injuries. Building power back up too quickly can also lead to overuse injuries.
Using ROTOR’s Q-Rings can also facilitate the recovery and retraining process. They help a cyclist generate power more efficiently by maximizing output during the naturally strongest part of the pedal stroke.
Road riding in the winter comes with extra challenges, especially with colder weather and shorter days. But if you can find the motivation to get outside, and can figure out how to stay warm, it can be incredibly rewarding. Check out these tips to make your next winter ride better.
Choosing the right clothing to wear for the conditions makes the difference between a fun winter ride and a miserable one. Check the forecast for where you will be riding. What temperatures are expected throughout your ride? Will it be dry or will it be wet due to rain or snow? Will it be calm or windy?
Then dress in layers for those conditions. First, don a highly breathable synthetic or wool base layer. Then add one or more layers for insulation. Finally, top it off with a wind and/or waterproof jacket. Note that most waterproof jackets aren’t very breathable, despite any marketing to the contrary, so go with just a wind-blocking layer if conditions will be dry.
If you expect to ride frequently in cold weather, it’s worth investing in proper winter riding clothing and accessories.
When riding in extreme cold, always bring a spare layer or two. If something happens – like a mechanical or crash – you may have to stop riding for a period of time during which your core temperature will drop quickly due to the lack of movement. If there is a threat of precipitation, make sure you have a spare waterproof layer like a rain jacket.
Take the time to stop and adjust which layers you’re wearing as needed. Remove layers on climbs to keep from overheating and add layers ahead of descents to stay warm. When you wear too many layers, your sweat will quickly drench your clothes, which puts you at risk for feeling much colder the rest of the ride.
Get extra motivation by making riding dates with friends.
Keep your extremities warm
When your hands, feet and head stay warm, you will feel warmer overall. Buy yourself some truly effective gloves and winter cycling shoes. If you notice your hands and feet getting tingly and going numb during rides, your gloves and shoes are not warm enough. Avoid getting frostbite so you don’t permanently damage the circulation in your extremities.
You lose a lot of heat through your head so simply putting on ear covers, a hat or a balaclava can help you keep more heat to yourself.
Be seen and be safe
Winter means shorter days and lower levels of light. That means drivers are less likely to see you. Wear brightly colored and reflective outer layers for better visibility and consider adding a flashing rear blinking light and/or a headlight to your bike.
If it’s darker out, ride with glasses that have lenses that are lightly tinted or clear. You’ll be able to see better.
If you ride where it’s cold and wet enough for ice and snow, always be on the lookout, especially around blind corners or in the shade where ice may take more time to melt even as ambient temperatures rise above freezing.
Be flexible with your riding plans
Give your body extra time to warm up before pedalling hard on winter rides. If it’s very cold, consider doing a shorter ride or riding at a higher intensity so you produce more heat to keep yourself warm.
Adjust your route to pick roads with less wind exposure or stay at lower elevations. Or time your ride so you’re out at the warmest part of the day.
Bring a friend
Sometimes the hardest part of winter riding is finding the motivation to get out the door. Get extra motivation by making riding dates with friends. Knowing you have to meet your riding buddy at a certain location and time will make you less likely to bail. And you can even reward yourselves for getting out there together by stopping for a cup of warm coffee or tea at the end of your ride.