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Stay sane riding in the rain
Wet weather riding - What you need
The winter months are setting in and this usually brings buckets of rainfall – conditions not very conducive to riding your bike around town. Don’t despair, there are totally viable ways of keeping up your commuting even on the wettest of days. It’s all about the right gear!
The first thing you’ll need is a decent rain jacket. Make sure that it’s totally waterproof and not just showerproof. If you can afford to spend a bit more on a rain jacket made of a breathable fabric like Gore-Tex, it’s well worth the money. You’ll find that you won’t heat up as much and you won’t get a build-up of condensation on the inside.
Waterproof overtrousers are also a great investment. You can save your pennies with the overtrousers and just get a cheap pair. You tend not to notice the breathable fabric as much in your legs as you do in your torso. Just make sure that they’re not to baggy around the ankles or they’ll get caught up in the chain of the bike.
Waterproof shoes or a spare pair in your bag
There’s nothing like squelching around in soggy socks all day. Either get some waterproof shoes (Blundstones are great)! or carry a spare set of shoes and socks in your bag.
Mudguards - they make all the difference!
Mudguards are the number one secret to staying dry in the wet! Most of the water that hits you when you’re riding around in the rain actually sprays up off your wheels. And mudguards not only protect you while it’s raining, they also stop you from getting wet once the rain has stopped and there’s still standing water on the road. As an added bonus, they also stop you from spraying anyone who’s riding behind you.
Lights - Front and Back
Make sure that you are clearly visible on the road while it’s raining. Get a decent set of front and rear lights. A small light on your helmet doesn’t hurt either.
Waterproof panniers or a good backpack with a rain cover
If you have some delicate cargo to transport through a torrential downpour, waterproof panniers are the best way to go. You can pretty much throw them into a river and your precious laptop will still be bone dry. If you don’t have panniers, the next best thing is a backpack with a rain cover. Just make sure that the rain cover is properly attached to the pack as sometimes they can slip off.
Finally, a bit of bike care and maintenance during the wetter months. Riding around in the rain usually means that your bike gets absolutely filthy. It tends to pick up a lot of dirt and grime off the road. Once the rain has passed, it’s a good idea to clean and lube your chain. You can clean your bike by hosing it off. If it’s really filthy, try and spray the dirty areas, especially the chain, with some degreaser before you hose it off. If it’s not too bad you can clean the chain with an old rag. After you’ve cleaned the chain, you’ll need to apply some chain lube. This step is really important since the rain will have washed off any lube that you had previously applied. Pedal backwards while squeezing the lube over the round links of the chain. Once you’re done, get your rag and wipe off any excess lube.
When the roads are wet, your brakes become very slippery and they tend not to work as well. Make sure you leave plenty of time for braking – at least twice the distance you would ordinarily leave in the dry.
Also, be extra careful when going around corners – especially on shared paths. Shared paths are not always laid with asphalt. Some are tiled, which when wet, become extremely slippery. On these surfaces, it is very easy for the tyres to slip out underneath you when going around a corner.
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