Sunday, 16 November 2008

Riding In The Rain

My commute from home to university takes about an hour, with the roads being winding, smooth and traffic free. It's a great ride: except that is, when it's raining.

It seems a bit of rain can turn the nicest of rides into the journey from hell. However smooth and traffic free the roads, with a bit of rain there's suddenly twice as many dangers to look out for.

Riding in the rain takes a lot more effort than it would do if it was a nice, dry day. However, I know there are things I can do to make sure not only it's a safe ride, but that I even enjoy it.

Keep Warm

Staying warm and dry is a pretty important factor. We all know the dangers of riding when you've lost the feeling in your fingers, your head hurts from trying to concentrate on the road and you can feel cold water running down your back.

Waterproof trousers are a must, and preferably thick: there's nothing worse than feeling the rain hit your legs like pinpricks through thin trousers. I usually wear my padded combat-style Joe-Rocket's over jeans: it keeps you warm and means you can change later.

To keep extra warm, try wearing a pair of tights underneath it all. It may sound like it only applies to girls, but I was actually given this tip by a male biker friend. Just buy extra large!

I was reading this article that has some great suggestions on warm clothing and waterproofs, and is worth a read.

Ride Safe

The most obvious thing to do is to ride safer, though there is a suggestion that you shouldn't change how you ride in the rain to riding in the dry.

There are plenty of guides on the internet offering suggestions on changing the tyres, suspension, cornering and more. There's plenty of things you can do to your bike to make it safer to ride on wet roads.

Most of time however, I just want to get on my bike and go, not spend my time checking everything is ok before I even start the bike, and I'm sure there are plenty of riders out there who feel the same.

So the basics I try and remember are to take it a little slower, keep back from cars who sometimes decide to slam on the brakes, concentrate harder and avoid all painted lines and pot-holes like the plague.

Keep Dry

You can buy waterproof covers to fit over boots. I still ride in trainers or fashion boots, so for the wet I just slip the boot covers over the top. I use Weise covers, which have elastic at the top, and can be pulled up over trousers for even more protection.

Waterproof jackets are pretty useful, but in my wisdom I currently only have a leather jacket. It keeps out the cold and most of the rain, but in a downpour it's not all that helpful. I try and wear a cheap kagool over the top to help a bit. I've never tried an oversuit: any input on their usefullness would be most appreciated!

I've got a lovely pair of Spada Chill Factor gloves to go under my normal gloves, and they do the job very well. Though I have been known to cheat and turn the grip heaters on!

The one area I've always struggled with is my helmet. Wearing a neck guard helps a little, but on long rides my visor has to stay open so I can see the road. I always know I'm going to arrive with no feeling in my nose and having eaten at least one fly!

No comments: