Living in Melbourne, you're eventually going to be riding in the rain like it or not. It's not going to be most riders favourite to be cycling in the rain. So, what do you do when you are caught out on the road or trail on a rainy day? Here's a few things you can do to make it a more enjoyable & safer experience.
1. Prepare Your Bike
The first step to safe riding in the rain is preparation. You must prepare yourself, and even more importantly, prepare your bike for a heavy rain downpour.
Whether you mountain bike or simply ride on the road, your bike needs to be prepared to make it through the rain safely. Here are a few things you should add to your bike before heading out in the rain.
Enhance your visibility in rainy conditions by adding bike lights to your bicycle. The rain and cloudy sky can make it difficult for others to spot you no matter what time of day it is, leading to accidents. Make sure your bike is as visible as possible.
Keep your bike's chain in good condition by using wet lubricant specifically designed for wet weather conditions. This type of lubricant is thicker and more resistant to washing away, keeping water away from the chain.
Bike Saddle Bags
Use saddle bags to keep your personal belongings dry during rainy bike rides. These bags can be attached to the handlebars, the bike frame, or under your seat.
2. Which Cycling Rain Jacket To Choose?
Staying dry and warm is essential when cycling in the rain. Layer up with a waterproof jacket before heading out for a ride in Melbourne's wet weather. Look for a jacket with good breathability to allow sweat vapor to escape. Even if the jacket keeps rain out, trapped sweat can make you uncomfortably wet from the inside.
3. Invest In Cycling Overshoes
Your feet are particularly vulnerable to the rain while cycling. Waterproof socks may keep your feet warm, but they won't protect your expensive cycling shoes. Invest in cycling overshoes, which provide coverage for both your feet and shoes. These shoe covers can be easily washed and come in reflective options for better visibility.
4. Glove Up With Biking Gloves
Keeping your hands warm when riding in the rain seems next to impossible. When the temperature falls, your hands will freeze if they are wet. Cycling gloves are a must
One easy solution may be waterproof gloves. A great alternative to using waterproof gloves is biking gloves made of a specific material called neoprene. Neoprene is the foamed material that is used to make wetsuits. These trap a layer of water right above your skin where it heats up and insulates your hands. They will also work great in cold weather by trapping the heat your hands give off and using it to keep your hands warm.
5. Prevent Chafing
Chafing can be a common problem for cyclists, especially when riding in rainy conditions where wet skin becomes more susceptible. To avoid chafing, the following may help
Choose moisture-wicking fabrics that help keep your skin dry. Avoid cotton as it tends to retain moisture, which can exacerbate chafing. Opt for synthetic materials or specialized cycling gear designed to minimize friction.
Apply anti-chafing creams or petroleum jelly on areas prone to friction, such as the inner thighs, groin, and underarms. These lubricants create a protective barrier that reduces friction and minimizes the risk of chafing
6. Lower Tire Pressure
One of the main hazards of cycling in rainy conditions is the potential for wheel slippage on wet surfaces. This occurs because most tires tend to lose traction on slippery ground.
This issue is particularly prevalent with road bikes, as the smooth road surfaces become even more treacherous in the rain. On the other hand, mountain bikes equipped with wider tires offer increased grip.
To address this challenge, one effective solution is to decrease tire pressure. This allows for greater contact between the tires and the road, enhancing grip and stability. By improving traction, you'll gain better control over your bike and feel more confident while navigating wet roads.
The amount of tire pressure to release depends on factors such as your weight and tire size. Generally, the heavier you are, the more pressure you may need to release from your tires. Just remember to have a bike pump on hand to restore the optimal tire pressure when conditions improve.
7. Bike Maintenance After Riding
Once out of the rain, make it a priority to clean your bike. Use a garden hose and simply wash off the mud. High pressure power washers should be avoided as they can damage your bike and force water into bearings in hubs and bottom bracket. It's best not to let mud and grime dry on the bike as it will only increase the time and effort you will need to clean it.
You can use warm soapy water and a sponge to clean off your bike. Or you can use a specific bike cleaning products especially made. After washing, make sure to dry your bike off properly. Especially the drivetrain, derailleur, rim brakes, brake pads, and disc brakes.
Use a degreaser to clean the chain off the lube for a deeper clean. Use a rag to rub off the old lube from the chain. Be thorough when cleaning off the degreaser, as it can damage any future lube you apply to your chain.
Our Final Thoughts Biking In The Rain
You can bike in the rain, as long as you are cautious and prepared. Prepare your bike with the right gear before you head out for biking in the rain. Layer up, but make sure that your clothing lets the sweat out when you ride hard in the rain.
Enjoy biking in the rain throughout winter in Melbourne!