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.
Cyclists in the rain
Cyclists in the rain

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 [1] 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.