Many of you likely found yourself in a familiar dilemma this morning when you opened your door to leave: Do you bike to work in the rain, and risk arriving wet and grimy? Or do you find another mode of transportation, and risk arriving late and grumpy?
This morning I opted to bike. But on the rainy ride, I thought about how unprepared I am for these inevitable rainy morning commutes.
So, to try to keep TheCityFix’s readers from facing this situation, here are some tried and true tips on turning yourself into a rain-resistant rider:
- Bring a change of clothes. If you have a breathable rain jacket and rain pants — gore-tex is good, but expensive — you’re probably already really prepared to bike in the rain. But if you don’t have the gear, just wear gym clothes to ride to work, and change when you arrive. And to make sure you don’t get too grimy…
- Invest in cheap fenders. Most bikes made for commuting come with fenders to protect you from the steady stream of grime that your tires sling up at you. But if you have a standard road bike, hybrid, or mountain bike, you’ve probably been riding without fenders. You can buy removable fenders for your bike for under $20 — just make sure you figure out where you’ll clip them on, first. This can be tricky on some road bikes. And if you’re looking for more protection, there are plenty of different models out there; they just might cost a bit more. For extra protection, especially to keep your shoes clean, you should think about adding mud flaps to the fenders.
- Avoid the temptation to splash through puddles! Once you’ve got your fenders and rain gear, puddles may look alluring. But, as many EMBARQ‘ers can attest, puddles often hide menacing pot holes. (If you are unfortunate enough to discover a pot hole this way , which we hope never happens, remember to report it on SeeClickFix.)
- Pretend it’s night time. Turn on your lights and wear more reflective clothing. Motorists have more trouble seeing you in the rain and are less aware of cyclists on rainy days; they’re focusing on keeping themselves safe in the rain, too.
- Brake early and often. Squeeze your brakes gently first to clear water off the brake pads. Give yourself plenty of time to brake, and ride more slowly to make braking easier and avoid skidding.
- Steer clear of metal, steel, and painted surfaces! Manhole covers, grates, and paint on the street can be extremely slippery. As EMBARQ’er and serious cycler Dave Cooper put it: “It’s one thing to be wet from the rain, it’s another thing to be wet from sliding on the pavement.” Painted crosswalks and cycling lanes can be especially dangerous, depending on the type of paint cities use.
- Carry an extra plastic bag or shower cap to keep your seat dry. Once it stops raining, you’ll be glad you don’t have to sit on a soggy seat.
- Look out for rainbows on the road and newly-wet roads. Rainbows mean a spot is especially slick.
- It is possible to bike with an umbrella! Just a bit awkward…