Cyclists in the rain
Cyclists in the rain

How to survive riding in the rain

Do you dread the weather forecast? Are you a fairweather cyclist, only venturing out if the sky is cloud free with a gentle breeze blowing? Is the car or bus your preferred choice when rain threatens? Read Cycling UK's guide to cycling in the rain and it might just change your mind.

With the downpours we Brits regularly have to put up with, many people are put off cycling to work. But it is possible to commute by bike and survive all year round with just a little bit of preparation.

“Heavy rain is expected causing hazardous driving conditions” are the words of the weather forecaster that all cyclists dread. “Never mind drivers, what about us!?” you want to yell at the radio as you look out of the window at the threatening clouds.

Should you abandon the bike for a change and tramp miserably to the bus stop or grab the car keys and resign yourself to a long, slow journey to work in the inevitable queues of traffic? Or could you take the third option and just cycle anyway? If you don’t know, read this handy guide and it could help you make your mind up.

Why cycle in the rain?

  • First of all, it doesn’t rain THAT much in this country (with notable exceptions of course!).
  • Secondly, often the heavy downpours turn out to be just showers – unlucky if you catch one, but they are usually shortlived.
  • You can always dry out when you get to work, assuming you work indoors, and you’ll get wet anyway if you don’t.
  • Will you stay 100% dry waiting at the bus stop for a bus that might never come? Or on the station platform? Or getting to and from your car?
  • You’ll appreciate the cosy warmth of your air-conditioned office far more, knowing that you’ve battled the elements to get there - and you can spend the money saved on a takeaway coffee to enjoy at your desk.
  • You’ll never feel more alive – riding through puddles is one of life’s most underrated pleasures, especially if you have a friend or colleague to splash!

Now for the hows:

  • It goes without saying that decent waterproof layers will help keep you dry and comfortable, but don't pile on too many - unless it's Arctic conditions outside - or you'll end up as wet from sweat as rain;
  • Gloves and a peaked hat are also essential, unless it’s warm, summer rain – a baseball cap, a cycling cap or any hat with a peak will keep your head dry and the water out of your eyes;
  • Waterproof panniers such as Ortliebs will keep your change of clothes dry – at the very least wrap them in a carrier bag or two;
  • Mudguards may not be the hippest of cycling accessories but then neither is a streak of mud up your back or in the eyes of the person following you;
  • Many people are lucky enough to have showers and drying rooms at work – if your workplace doesn’t have any, consider forming a Bicycle User Group to lobby for them;
  • Take a change of dry clothes - not only will you stay comfortable at your desk, you'll not have to change into wet clothing for the journey home.

 

 

Comments

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Puddles

psamathe's picture

"riding through puddles is one of life’s most underrated pleasures"
Also totally stupid and dangerous as often there will be a nasty pothole hiding under that puddle. Ride through it and you could be sprawled across the road in front of that car ...

Do the authors of these article actually cycle on UK roads?

I was about to make a very

RUrwin's picture

I was about to make a very similar comment. Riding through puddles USED TO BE a pleasure- nowadays you dare not risk it.

puddles NOOO, and what about non communting rides

rogerco's picture

100% agree with others about puddles - DO NOT ride through a puddle unless either you can't avoid it or you know that stretch of road really well and are sure there is nothing nasty lurking under the surface.
A very stupid remark in the article - please delete it.
The piece seems to assume that the only people who ride in the rain are commuters - actually leisure, touring and sportive riders are probably more likely to be caught out in the rain.
For touring waterproof panniers or at least two layers of plastic bags around everything in the panniers is essential - it is amazing how far water will penetrate and there's nothing worse than finally pulling out your dry clothes to find large damp patches where your plastic bag had a pinhole in it.
Personally I like an old fashioned cape for rain - yes it increases windage massively but if it has tapes securing it to the handlebars and back of the saddle it keeps you good and dry above the legs and is airy and light.
Waterproof socks are a godsend - they don't necessarily keep your feet dry but they act like wet-boots filling with water that has trickled down your legs and keep your tootsies nice and warm.
In summer the best solution to a rain spell is often simply to take your top off - amazingly it turns out skin is waterproof and drip dries quite quickly. A wet t-shirt will soon have you shivering with cold.
RogerCO

My observation is that

stratmg's picture

My observation is that generally the forecasts are very pessimistic.