Tips for Riding in the Rain

Nice weather for ducks...

Well the rain didn’t let up at all today.  But fair weather ne’er a fair maiden found (or something like that) so I met up with Andy W and we ventured out into the monsoon.  We did a relatively fast 52 miles at around 15.7mph around the lanes of Cheshire including a very pleasant cafe stop, where I had coffee and a cream/jam scone, and tried to get warm.  Apologies to the cafe owners for the large puddles we left behind!

It was a pretty flat route and one of the advantages of being out today was that not many other people were stupid enough to be so.  The roads were pretty clear really.

Anyway, it got me thinking about riding in the rain – here’s some tips

  1. Waterproof doesn’t mean waterproof.  There are degrees of waterproofing – and the unit of measure is Hydrostatic Head, which relates to pressure exerted by a column of water.  In the UK a HH of 1000mm is the minimum value to be considered waterproof.  Falling rain exerts an HH of about 1000mm so you’d think that you will be okay if your jacket is rated at that level.  But then factor in the wind and the fact that you are zipping along on a bike and roadspray etc and you should be looking at HH values above 5000mm.
  2. A high level of waterproofing is likely to mean breathability issues.  So you have a choice – get wet from the outside or get wet from the inside.  Either way you’re getting wet!
  3. Waterproof socks and gloves are great until they fail – and they will fail if you are riding in rain for hours.  At which point the waterproofing keeps the water in!  Lovely.
  4. Watch the road more than usual.  A puddle can often mean a pothole. And bigger pools of water not only get you wet but often mean you’ll either pull into the middle of the road to avoid them or hit them hard enough to throw you off balance.  Today there were numerous floods on the back-lanes and it was fun (yes fun!) riding around and through them and trying not to get soaked!  Fat chance.
  5. Take corners carefully – my tyres certainly do not perform as well in the wet – I suspect they’re not unique.
  6. Brake earlier – they don’t work great in the rain
  7. Keep your mouth closed.  Or you’ll get a mouthful!  And rain hurts your face at 30mph downhill too.
  8. Keep an eye on your brake-blocks.  The wet and the natural crap you get on roads can create a rough paste which gets between your rims and blocks and acts like sandpaper.
  9. Eat cake.  Yes I know that’s got nothing to do with the rain but it’ll make you feel better.
  10. Don’t stay out too long.  Once you are soaked, it gets harder and harder to stay warm.

Anyway, I’m glad I went out.  It was a good to meet up with Andy again and given the weather it was a decent pace.  I’m just about dry now too!


  1. @bikegeek555 · February 6, 2011

    Nice post but you left out merino! I have found that provided I have some degree of water repellancy on outer layers, wearing merino base layers (and socks) means I don’t really notice getting wet. Since it’s inevitable in the rain, you have to accept it and prepare accordingly.


    • Ade · February 7, 2011

      Good point – merino wool is great stuff


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