Here are 33 tips for biking in the rain – do not be intimidate new bike commuters, you can do it! I found myself off guard this week in cold, wet commute home so wanted to review some basics and lessons I have learned. We are settling into a rainy monsoon season here in Colorado, and these tips are in the forefront of my mind.
Prepare your day pack & panniers for the rain!Keep the following items packed at all times:
- Pack a rain jacket or poncho. You may use this for sprinkles, or if you are expecting cold temperatures look for a gortex shell. Check out reasonably priced frogg togg (these are inexpensive but very effective for the price!)
- When purchasing the rain jacket, make sure it fits over a helmet.
- Pack rain pants. Roll them up in the bottom of your bag, you may use these less often but a game changer if it pours.
- Comfy pants to wear under the rain pants. I use “hot chilly” ski pants under mine! I put my other pants I need for work in the day pack.
- Gortex gloves. The gortex will keep the hands slightly more warm, remember water sucks away heat.
- Find a water proof shell to go over your day pack or invest in water proof panniers.
- Extra socks in a plastic bag.
- Waterproof shoes. Do your homework here, when I check the weather in the morning I determine the caliber of shoe I need for that day. Fiveten mountain bike shoes work well for me.
- Thin buff in the plastic bag. Depending on your climate, that thin layer to help protect your face might really help!
- Thermos. Again, climate specific but on cold rainy days I keep a thermos of hot tea with me. Search for a hydroflask (again on ebay for the best price!)
- Insulation layer. Fleece or puffy.
- Extra set of clothes. If your work/situation requires pack extra dry clothing, or leave it at work.
- Pack the night before. Try and be in a habit of having some basic bike commuter packed the day before a ride. It gives you time to really review needs.
- Clear lenses. I have Smiths clear lenses, they are like a little windshield.
How to handle the bike in rainy conditions:
- Always check air in tires, brakes, and chain before embarking on a “rain ride”. Might as well start on a strong ride…
- Heavy Pedals. This is an adapted saying from when I taught mountain bike , but keep the weight centered and heavy on those pedals, avoid big upper body movement’s that might cause you to slip.
- Absorb. Use your ankle, knees, and hips to absorb big pot holes, or changes in surfaces. Again, avoiding reactionary movement’s from the upper body.
- Push the handles bars forward. When encountering a really wet patch, or sketchy area track the handlebars (almost gentle forward pressure)through the area.
- One finger on the brakes. Do not over brake, reactionary braking can be dangerous. Brake early, but not harshly. Always one finger on each.
- Eyes. Keep your eyes scanning for the next obstacle, in this case pools of water or next wet corner.
- Avoid whole body tipping. You do not necessarily know how well you handle bikes in the rain until you try it – avoid leaning your entire body in turns in these conditions. Think about tipping just the frame not your body.
- Do not “twist” the handle bars. Similar to the above tip, no fast twisting motions from the handle bars. It is safer to brake if possible and avoid quick hand motions.
- Slow. Without over braking, allow time when you know conditions are wet.
Route planning can help with biking in the rain.
- Avoid corners. Is there one route you know is more technical? Can you plan your bike commute/trip around that?
- Have a lightening plan. Lightening is not safe, is there a route that you could take shelter in an underpass, friends house, or public space if you had to?
- Phone. In 2022 everyone has one, use it. Have a portable charger in case of an emergency. Have a “rescue” buddy in the rare case you get in over your head.
- Have an emergency plan. This is an extreme case, but it is always important to know where your closest medical help location is. This is outdoors 101. A small first aid kit is not a bad idea either.
Extra safety considerations in the rain:
- Lights. Make sure you are visible to others with a front & rear light. Make sure you purchase one with 1000 lumens or more. (ebay option linked as they are very expensive in sporting goods stores!)
- Bell. If you are in an active bike area, make sure you have a bell or loud way to communicate with other bikers.
- Time of day. This might be common sense here, but I am guilty of breaking this. Early and late evenings with rain compound the risks – be flexible in your bike commuting plan.
- Weather Apps. Learn your local area if traveling. Look at weekly and day before forecasts and have a good prepared mindset before hand.
- Mindset. Bike commuting in the rain is a challenge, but one you can over come. Make sure you have a growth mindset.
- Relax. Related to mindset, this is a visceral and intimate connection with Mother Nature! Take your time, be prepared and really be in the experience of biking in the rain. You are likely not in great danger, and can handle this challenge. Be intentional with your time outside in the rain, and observe the unique experience that many others never will have a chance to embrace!
Bike commuting in the rain comes down to preparedness, and a growth mindset. Instead of seeing rain as a barrier learn how to adapt and find solutions.
I hope these tips were applicable and helpful for you and your bike commuting journey. I would love to connect with you if you are a new bike commuter. Leave me a comment if something resonates or helps you!
Happy Biking – Emily