Author Topic: Reflections on First Rain Ride  (Read 4446 times)

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Offline Nyimbo

Reflections on First Rain Ride
« on: March 04, 2016, 06:58:36 pm »
I rarely ride in the rain.  In my day by day hobby of riding for exercise and enjoyment, I choose not to ride in the rain, so in planning for my first long tour I am expecting rain will come and today did a test ride on my tour bike with my newly installed fenders.  Today it is raining a medium and steady rain so thought it might be a good test with the weather not to cold - current temp is 57.  Since I am more aware of things my first time doing something I made some notes and then thought why not post them. So, these are my observations.

1. No one passed me in my lane today.  Every driver gave me the lane. Traffic was not heavy today but during my hour ride I was passed by perhaps 25 cars.  Usually at least a few buzz by me in my lane.  I don't know if it was because I put on the panniers which are bright and stand out.  I don't think so, I think it was because drivers were more cautious driving in the rain.

2. My sunglasses were either fogged or wet, so I was hoping others could see me better than I could see them.  (I did have my front and back lights blinking.)  I also noted that I couldn't read my computer at all so if I want to use it then its probably better to just start it and then stick it inside the handlebar bag and keep it dry and not be distracted trying to read it through wet glasses and a wet screen.

3. Going downhill in the rain is hard.  As soon as I reached about 20mph I felt uncomfortable (kinda squirrrely) and needed to slow down.  Also the cold wet fingers did not grip the brakes as securely as I wanted.

4. For the first 30 minutes I was comfortable but by the time my legs warmers and shoes and socks and gloves soaked through I started shivering and at that point the ride was not enjoyable.  I also noted that a helmet cover and shoe covers are required for me unless perhaps it is a warm summer rain???  At the end of the ride a cross wind picked up for about 10 minutes and that was difficult.

5. Its hard to find a nice place to stop for a break when it is raining. During my local rides I look for a park bench or rock under a tree and about every 45 min I will take a break and drink some water and sometimes a couple bites of trail mix.  Today, I didn't need to stop on the short ride but in the spirit of the test I started looking for a place to take a rest stop.  I found a barn in the park, but the floor was muddy getting in. I slipped a bit riding in but didn't want to get off to walk in the mud.

6. When I got home went in the kitchen to change there was a good puddle of water on the floor by the time I got on dry clothes.  I put everything in the dryer and was thinking this would not be as easy to do in a camp while putting up a tent in the rain and so on...

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2016, 09:16:29 pm »
But it nearly never rains on bike tours...  :o

Enjoy the ride,
ACA Life Member 368

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2016, 10:06:11 pm »
I don't like riding in the rain, but have had many days on tour when it rained a lot.  I like it better than sitting around all day in a tent.  I have spent some time waiting it out under road overpasses and other sheltered spots. Always have some dry clothes in a waterproof bag!
May the wind be at your back!


  • Guest
Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2016, 01:49:36 pm »
Get yourself some good rain gear, including gloves, that will keep you warm. A cold rain at high altitude is nothing to mess around with. Temps can drop 20-30 degrees very quickly. During my '14 trip out west I had to descend a long distance in very could rain twice. In the first instance I even experienced snow and hail coming down from 8,000'. While waiting out rain last year in SD another cyclist pulled in to the trail head shelter. He and his wife had gotten caught in a thunder storm descending on the Mickelson Trail from about 5,600'. The temperature had dropped maybe 25 degrees. He was only wearing short gloves. His fingers were literally blue.

You can put a little baggie over your computer and secure it with a rubber band. It won't be easily readable while riding, but you may be glad you can stop and check out your mileage periodically. And what type of computer runs if it's not connected to the wheel sensor?

Private campgrounds in the U.S. often have washers and dryers. Some state parks may also have them. And small tows sometimes have coin-operated laundries.

If your camping location has a covered picnic shelter or some other place with cover try assembling the tent there and then walking it out to your camp site.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2016, 11:53:07 am »
For sure, nothing will dry out overnight, so always have a spare set to put on. Silnylon drybags are the thing. I don't even use conventional paniers, just drybags in cheap mesh packs, but not everyone will want to do the mods to make that work. A rainsuit will condensate on the inside, but will still keep you warmer and help deflect rain around the outside of your waterproof shoes. I haven't found that pit zips make any significant reduction in condensation. My back, chest, and arms, are still always condensated after a ride even in the winter. This is important because if your sock tops are exposed they'll wick the water right into your shoes, and the shoes will probably be the thing that takes the longest to dry, and NOBODY wants a case of swamp-foot.

You don't want to put a hood OVER your helmet, you want it inside, tight to your skull, otherwise (if it even fits over the outside), it blocks your peripheral vision and acts like a scoop, directing the wind, rain, and road spray right into your face and down the back of your neck.

Sent from my SGP561 using Tapatalk

Offline dombrosk

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2016, 10:12:46 am »
I love riding in the rain.

This post got rather long, but I wanted to share some thoughts on the how and the why.  I worry that people lose out from thinking  about rain as a problem.

My first multi-day ride, many years ago, was an MS fundraising tour.  Because it was a big challenge at the time, I was serious about training rides.  One morning I set out after breakfast in a light drizzle.  Once I was two blocks away from home the drizzle became a steady rain.  Prior to that day, I would have readily turned around.  Visions of another cup of hot coffee and the morning newspaper dangled in front of me.  But then I remembered.   In just two weeks I'd be riding all day for an entire week.  There'd be no turning back, only going on. 

So I gritted my teeth, scrunched up my face, and plodded on.

I had a 45 mile ride planned that day.  As the morning went on the rain intensified, with intermittent downpours.  Fortunately I had good enough raingear so that I was able to maintain a comfortable body temperature, but I was WET, WET, WET.

About halfway through the day I was riding through wooded country around a lake.  As I watched the whitecaps blending with the torrents of rain, I suddenly opened up to what an incredibly beautiful scene I was in the middle of.  One of my mentors is the writer and teacher Parker Palmer.  He tells a story of freezing up during an Outward Bound course and learning the lesson that sometimes the only way to get OUT of something is to get INTO it.  I ungritted my teeth, unclenched my face, and smiled. 

What a gorgeous day for a bike ride.

That was almost 20 years ago.  Now that I've toured quite a bit around North America and Europe, and turned into a year-round bicycle commuter (in Minnesota, no less) I've decided that there are almost no bad days for a bike ride.  Extreme heat and humidity spoil it for me.  And while I used to ride down to -5 F as I've gotten deeper into AARP land I've started to draw the line closer to +15 F.

A few tips on how to help this along:  there's no such thing as bad weather, there's just bad equipment.   For cold weather I've learned a lot about the virtues of wool and layering. For rain, I've invested in an EVent jacket and gore-tex pants.  I'm not afraid to put on shoe covers, and have over a dozen assorted gloves for different conditions.  For heat with humidity, given my body type, I know no cure.

I wasn't lying when I said I love riding in the rain.  There's a peacefulness to it that is unique.  I have fond memories of multiple sequential cold all-day rains in western Montana on the Northern Tier.  I can treasure my memories of storm clouds building over central Germany, and a steady drizzle along the North Sea in the Netherlands.  Not to mention  days at work when my co-workers come up to me with the always astonished look accompanying the question: "Did you ride your bike TODAY?"

My answer is, of course, it's a beautiful day to be out on a bicycle.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2016, 01:02:55 pm »
DB there is no like button on forums so I'll post a note. "Liked" your post thanks. 

I already had a good rain jacket and ordered rain pants y'day - so have started the process to ride better in the rain

Offline johnlemk

Re: Reflections on First Rain Ride
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2016, 05:02:02 pm »
Just keep riding. The trick is to stay warm. If you think about it, you can only get so wet. Once you have achieved maximal wetness, you might as well keep riding. I agree with dombrosk, you are out there, there is nowhere else to go, enjoy the experience.