As we move towards the end of summer, the weather is sure to begin to worsen. Sunshine will more frequently be replaced by rain; and adapting safely to worsening conditions is essential. You certainly shouldn’t let wetter weather prevent you from cycling, but knowing how to deal with it properly is vital.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips to follow to help you to stay safe when you’re cycling in the rain. The advice will be particularly useful for beginning cyclists; although even the most seasoned of us can benefit from a refresh of these points:
Keep Your Core Warm with Appropriate Clothing
It might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t follow this simple piece of advice. There’s no excuse for not kitting up properly – a heavy-duty full waterproof jacket, overshoes and gloves can help you immeasurably against the perils of the elements.
Thermal leg wear can be equally as important for staying warm. Keeping your body’s core temperature raised is essential for staying comfortable on your ride; and keeping your concentration levels raised.
Beware of Rainbow Patches, Grates and Rail Lines
These are often a problem in wetter weather conditions. Rainbow-coloured patches on the road indicate a build up of oil; which is a common problem just after a downpour begins. The initial stages of heavy rain can turn the road surface extremely slippery; and you should be particularly careful at that time.
Avoiding braking or cornering in the middle of a road at an intersection is a sound piece of advice to follow, as this is where the worst of any oil build up will have been left behind by motor vehicles. Metal grates can also be a particular hazard, as they’re likely to become noticeably slipperier when wet.
With mention to tram and rail lines, you should always ride as close to a right angle against the obstacle as possible. Never take one of these at a sharp angle, as it could have disastrous results.
Protect Your Bike with Fenders/Mudguards
These can be absolutely essential for wet weather riding. We’ve already mentioned the importance of keeping your body warm; so mud and dirty water spraying up from the road will only leave you wet and cold if there’s no preventer in play.
Good mudguards will protect you from this problem, ensuring that you stay dry in the process. They can be added on to fenders which will help protect both you and your bike. The latter can be essential as unwanted debris will be kept away from the frame.
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Puddles and Potholes
This is absolutely vital, and perhaps the most important piece of advice on offer here that you should make sure to follow. As we’ve previously mentioned many times on this site, the state of the roads in the UK is very often appalling; with potholes a particular hazard posed to road users. Potholes become an even more precarious obstacle to avoid in rainy weather.
They’ll quickly fill with water; and whilst you may not mind getting splashed thanks to heading straight through a puddle, the dangers underneath mean you should really consider avoiding doing so wherever possible. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Lights are a Must
Rain causes conditions to darken, and it’s essential that you light yourself up to other road users. Decreased visibility means that anything you can do to raise awareness of your presence to others on the road should take top priority.
Having both blinking lights and a rechargeable set of lights should stand you in good stead here; whilst as a last resort you can use the light of your phone if you have a product that allows you to secure your phone to the frame of your bike such as a Handleband.
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Adjust Your Riding Style
It can’t be impressed enough how important it is to adjust your riding style in the rain. Understanding why you need to do this is essential; and it’ll help you secure peace of mind with regards to your safety in the process.
Wherever possible avoid braking when cornering; and try to shift as much of your weight onto the outside pedal as possible when you do take a corner. If you lean your body more than your bike your body will tend to remain more balanced over the bike if you come across any slippery metal grates or oil slicks.
Another thing that’s important to mention is to avoid any hard braking. If you fail to heed this advice you are far more likely to lose your grip on the road and skid. Look further ahead and allow more time to react and you’ll be giving yourself a far better chance of ensuring your safety. Ride confidently and steadily and you’ll make yourself far more readable to other road users.
Wear Clear or Yellow Lenses
Ensuring that you’ve got the right equipment for your eyes is particularly important for dank conditions. Rain will reduce light; and obstruction of vision thanks to a decrease in light means that dark riding glasses are a strict no-go.
Clear or yellow lenses will protect your eyes from debris, water, mud and grit; whilst ensuring that your vision isn’t obstructed in the process.
Get in Touch
Do you think we’ve missed anything out? Do you have any tips for cycling in dangerous conditions that you’d like to share? Comment on this article, contribute in our forum or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you
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It is important to stay safe whilst you are out cycling and at Wheelie Good Guys we are champions of cycling safety. None of the work we do however; would be possible without the help if Ian Brown. Ian is the UK Cycling Speedway Commissioner; as well as a personal injury solicitor for Wosskow Brown.