Rain

I was talking to a friend last night and mentioned that I had ridden 17 miles earlier in the day.  “That’s odd,” she said.  “There isn’t an update to your blog!”

As an important an influential blogger, I sometimes forget that many people – sometimes in numbers soaring to double digits – check this site for updates on my incredibly exciting and informative cycling adventures.  It should be noted, however, that I do not find all of my rides to be either exciting or informative and thus I do not share them with you.  You’re welcome.  If you are curious about my progress, you can check my odometer in the top right portion of the blog.  This allows you, Dear Reader, to visit the site, see my progress, and say things like, “How lovely.  Steve has managed to crack the 2,050 barrier.”

Something of mild interest happened today, which brings us to today’s subject: cycling in the rain.  I almost never do this, except on those rare occasions when I misjudge my weather forecast and get stuck in a thunder shower out in the middle of nowhere.  This March, I purposefully set out on the Vasaloppet ride in the midst of a deluge.  That’s the last time I cycled in the rain until this morning, when I shoved off in order to get a training ride in before next weekend’s Reston Century.

Experienced cyclists are prepared for rain.  They have rain jackets and fenders for their wheels.  They often have a special bike they use so their special (and usually insanely expensive) road bike isn’t exposed to the elements uneccesarily.  I have none of those things and I therefore was able to experience cycling in the rain in all its glory.

Without fenders, I was able to experience the unique sensation of cold water hitting my backside and running into my seat.  This is caused by an arc of nasty/filthy water running off the rear tire and arcing majestically in what is known as a “rooster tail.”  With enough speed, you can get some spray off the front wheel as well, thus doubling your pleasure.

One must be a tad careful in the wet as brakes are less effective and (oddly enough) the road can be quite slippery.  I was unable to wear my sunglasses due to the poor visability, meaning my eyes were exposed to the rain drops that were pelleting my face.  I need to get some clear glasses for inclement weather.  My shoes quickly became saturated, making me wonder if there is some sort of product besides cling wrap that could waterproof my socks.

When I finished the ride, I toweled off the bike and relubed the chain.  I then looked at myself and was surprised to see an incredible amount of road grime on me.  I guess those rooster tails kick up quite a bit of sand while they’re spraying you.  My shower was like the ones you take after going to the beach.

In spite of the conditions, I finished a 16.8 mile circuit only one minute slower than I did on Saturday (See? I did a short ride and didn’t blog about it!) in good weather.   I’ll try to knock out a couple rides on Monday and Tuesday before I build up what little strength I can muster for Sunday’s century ride.

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24 thoughts on “Rain

  1. I also rode this morning with buddy Steven and it took me an un-Godly amount of time to clean the bike, strip the chain clean and re-lube everything. Not sure it was worth it but I did have fun.

  2. I got caught in a sudden thunder storm on my way back home last Thursday. I was on the fixie and I upped my cadence to something insane in a bid to get back before the worst came down. I didn’t make it. Feet were sodden within less than a minute and I was ever thankful for the rear fender that I leave on that bike all the time.

    • As a fixie enthusiast, your credentials on being comfortable while cycling are immediately called into question! 🙂 Just kidding. There’s a lot to be said for those fenders, isn’t there?

  3. I’m not sure I buy into fenders, I could see that they would be useful in light rains and colder temps, but usually when I ride in the rain it seems I’d be soaked regardless of fenders. Of course I’ve only ridden in the rain twice this year.

    • I suppose they are helpful when the roads are wet but the rain has stopped, and they at least get rid of the constant sprinkle on your backside. My jersey had a streak of grime running down the middle due to my rooster tail shower.

  4. Your intro to this post made me laugh.

    Regarding fenders, they may not keep you dry in heavy rain but they sure keep you cleaner. The stuff that comes up from the road is much nastier than the stuff coming down from the sky. They will also keep you dry if you have to take shelter from a storm and then ride on the wet roads after it stops.

    I sometimes like riding in the rain when I’m prepared for it. It gives a different character to my normal commuting route, especially the wooded river valley trail sections.

    • I remember a blog post from Spokie about a century ride she took in Almish Country. There was a steady rain which mixed with the ample amounts of horse dung on the roads. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t want that on my road spray!

  5. Ok, I’m emminently qualified to discuss wet weather biking.
    3 main reasons for that:
    1. I commute so weather is irrelevant, I have to pedal.
    2. I’m a MTBer too, so mud comes into the equation as well as water.
    3. I live in England, so if you wait for good weather you’ll never get out!
    Rightio, so what do all you fair weather cyclists want to know? 😉

    • Fortunately for me, I am a recreational rider living in a part of the world where one can usually wait for a break in the weather to get a ride in. Being a commuter takes things to another level. Not only must you deal with the elements, but you need to arrive in a condition that is acceptable to the workforce. If you work in a coal mine, that’s not too difficult, but in most places you’ll need to spruce yourself up a bit. Then there’s the matter of storing your soaking wet clothes and having a second pair of clothes for the slog home. Phew!

  6. Good morning folks. I like Clive have no alternative to cycling to work, live in England and agree if you only ride on the good days your not going to ride much. Welcome to our world, its actually not as bad as you may think.

    • Robin, I spent three wonderful years in Huntingdon back in the 90s. I look at pictures of me wearing wind jackets in July and shake my head in wonderment! To be a cyclist in your neck of the world takes a level of dedication that would cause most Yanks to give up the hobby. Well done!

  7. I have mudguards (fenders) on my road bike all the time. Why? They keep my bum dry. I also have overshoes. Why? They keep my feet dry. I have a natty little skull cap for under the helmet. You’ll have guessed why. If my bum, feet and head are dry, cycling in the rain is not too bad but glasses are a problem if you need them to see where you are going. I have tried a ski mask which is not too bad if you don’t mind people laughing at you. I don’t.

    You should have tried cycling in the rain in the good old days, when your brakes didn’t work at all in the wet.

  8. It never occurred to me that in the UK you do ride in so much rain. Though Seattle, WA is very rainy, cycling is very popular there. So, rain or shine, ultimately, we all seem to just take our own weather in stride. The photo you used of the guy with the umbrella….. taking a tumble, makes me shudder.

  9. I had no idea people had specific bikes for the rain. That probably means I need a third too…. Will save putting mudguards on the Trek 🙂

    Some weather is seriously and weirdly exciting, like getting caught in a sudden hailstorm where I heard the noise on my helmet milliseconds before I saw a shower of ice bouncing three feet off the road!

    • People have bikes for every possible situation. I have read in many places that the correct number of bikes a person should own can be expressed by the formula n+1, where n equals the number of bikes you currently own.

  10. A cycling cap under the helmet is great for the rain.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/10/news/philippe-gilbert-wins-giro-di-lombardia-again_146427/attachment/scarponi-gilbert

    If you’re riding low in the drops, or your glasses are still functioning, you can put the bill up. (Gilbert)

    After your glasses become useless from road grime, rain, and fogging in the humidity, you can put the bill down low to block the falling rain. (Scarponi)

    I know you’ve read ‘the rules’, so be sure to adhere to the three point system.
    http://www.velominati.com/blog/tradition/look-pro-part-i-three-point-system/

  11. Pingback: MassiveMTBer (Don't ever stop.) » Everywhere you go…Always take the weather…

  12. I’m a commuter cyclist, so yes, here in Wales, I end up cycling a great deal in the rain, from incessant drizzle, deluges to annoying showers. But really it isn’t so bad, in fact I enjoy it. That’s one of the main reasons I love to cycle, to experience all kinds of conditons outdoors, and as Clive says…….”Always take the weather with you….”
    Cheers.

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