It’s a beautiful day, with just a “few” large clouds lingering around! You think to yourself “I’ve got everything I need” and off you go. You’re cruising along down the bike path when all of a sudden, the clouds start to gather. “No biggie” you think to yourself and you keep on puttin’ along. Then all of a sudden the temperature drops and you feel some sprinkles come down. “Brrrr.” But you’re tough, you keep on ridin’ along. Then, without warning, “BAM!” Downpour! You’re caught in the rain and you’ve got nothing to protect you from the elements. It’s gonna be a cold ride back to your house…….
Well, if you’ve been riding for a while, this scene is pretty familiar. If not, then you’re in for a surprise. Cycling, unlike most other activities, is an all-weather sport (See “The Extra Gear” for more clothing tips) and since it’s an all-weather sport, you should be ready for all sorts of weather. It’s always best to have too much than too little and we believe in this philosophy. So in this section, we will discuss the gear that you should have to be an all weather cyclist.
Your jersey, shorts and even your windbreaker are fine for most occasions, but the extra gear listed below will keep your ride from becoming soggy.
#1) Bring a light raincoat: You might ask yourself “Why would I need that? I live in beautiful (place your state here)…..it never rains here.” WRONG! As you ride more, you’ll find out that weather is very unpredictable. Just because Channel Zero says that their Live Super Duper Doppler 9000 radar shows clear skies, doesn’t mean you should believe them. If you consider anything on this page, at the very least, you should always have a raincoat. They are cheap (you can pick one up at your local discount or drug stores) and very easy to store (you can fold them up and put them in your jersey pocket). You don’t even need a cycling specific one (in a pinch, you could even get away using a very large garbage bag…..a clean one preferably)…..
However, there are benefits to a cycling specific raincoat:
-Better ventilation: They usually have arm, side and back vents to dissipate perspiration unlike regular raincoats.
-Thicker material: You’ll appreciate this if you’re hit by debris from passing cars or if you should crash.
-Reflective: Cycling specific raincoats usually have reflective panels or strips to increase your visibility to drivers and other cyclists.
-Anatomically fitted for cyclist: Cycling specific raincoats are designed specifically to fit & protect the cyclist when they are on their bikes…..riding. The backs of cycling raincoats are usually longer to protect your lower back when leaning forward on your bike. They usually have velcro, elastic or tie cuffs and waistbands, plus neck protection to prevent water from entering these areas.
#2) Bring a cycling hat or helmet cover: Besides protecting your body, you should also protect your brain case too!
-A cycling specific hat (you’ve seen them before, they’re the tiny little hats with the little visors that flip up) are thin enough to fit under your helmet to keep your head warm and the visor facing forward can protect your eyes from rain. If your helmet is equipped with a visor, you can flip the hat backwards and protect your neck with the hat visor.
-A helmet cover is used to fully encase the helmet, keeping the elements out. These are a little more pricey than a hat but provide excellent protection and are worth it.
#3) Cycling specific rain pants: Along with a raincoat, rain pants provide extra protection to your legs, especially in the leg bottoms where they usually have a velcro, elastic or tie closures to keep out the elements. Additionally they are also anatomically fit for the cyclist: They are more snug than regular rain pants for better aerodynamics and to prevent from being snagged on to your chain or wheel. (But, if you can’t afford to buy cycling specific rain pants, a regular, thin pair of rain pants will do. Just remember to use a velcro strap to tie the leg bottoms to keep out the rain and to protect yourself from the chain.)
#4) Full finger or half finger glove (or glove liners) with rubberized grip: Cycling gloves in general, provide protection from the cold and rain, however, having gloves (or glove liners) with rubberized grips on the palms and fingers, will enhance your ability to shift and brake especially when in wet conditions.
#5) Shoe covers: Keep your feet warm and dry by using shoe covers. I don’t know about you, but I hate having wet feet, especially in the cold. Your shoes offer little protection, regardless if they are cycling specific or not and adding a second layer of socks does little to protect your feet from the rain. Shoe covers, however, repel water from your feet and ankles. Additionally, they also have openings for your cleats to be exposed for your clipless pedals.
After the ride…….
After you are thru with your bicycle ride, it is a good idea to clean up your bike thoroughly to prevent any mud or other debris from getting caked-on to your frame, possibly fowling up your drivetrain (see Cleaning Up section for more on cleaning your bike). Additionally rust may form on vital parts such as the frame, chain or other drivetrain parts, especially if you have an older bike that is made of steel (chromoly).
One quick method is to LIGHTLY hose your bike down to remove the mud or debris on your bike. If you use strong water pressure on your bicycle, you may force water into areas of the bike that may cause future damage (example: into the frame). Also if you use high water pressure and aim the water at certain parts such as the hubs or bottom bracket, the water pressure can force grease/lubricants out of these vital parts and, in turn, causing future damage to those components.
Don’t let the weather dictate your rides:
Cycling is an activity that you can enjoy anytime and in any kind of weather if you know what to expect. By having the right equipment for foul weather and maintaining your bike after each ride, you will be a true all weather cyclist.