From Drought to Downpour

I lived in Austin Texas for two years and only got caught cycling in the rain a few times.  I’ve been living on the Caribbean island of Grenada for 8 months and have been out riding in a downpour several times already.

Talk about totally going from drought to downpour.

During the time we lived in Austin, they were seriously suffering from drought-like conditions.  It got so bad that the wildfires were out of control even within the city.  Whenever there was a drop of rain, the Austinites on social media would blow up and there would be nothing but rain talk.  It’s the driest conditions I’ve ever lived in.  But it sure made for some nice dry roads to cycle on.

Now I’m in Grenada and things couldn’t be any more extreme from the drought we lived in.  It rains here, and it can rain a lot.  It doesn’t stop me from riding, but there are times when I feel like I’m taking a shower and not riding a bike.

bike-rain1

Riding a bicycle in Grenada can be insanity at the best of times, but try adding in a downpour and it’s semi-suicide.  Narrow roads, holes, and drivers who don’t have a clue how to deal with bicycles……and you know what adding rain can do to the mix, right?

I really haven’t had to ride in too many downpours in my cycling life, so now I’m jumping into it along with the nasty conditions.  I’m not sure if I would call these tips or not, but here’s some of the things that I keep in mind while riding in the pouring rain.

Just Do It - It’s so easy to see the rain beating down and tell yourself not to get out there.  I’ve considered it a couple times, but then I just get out there and do it anyway.

Sunglasses – I don’t need the sunglasses for their usual purpose when it’s raining, but when those drops are pelting down it’s nice to have something protecting my eyes.  What I usually end up doing is pushing down the glasses so they are halfway down the bridge of my nose.  That way I can see clearly over the top when the lenses get all wet.  But having them there still helps with some of the spray coming towards my eyes.

Holes – There are some serious potholes on these roads and when it’s wet it can be hard to tell how deep a puddle is going to be.  It’s best to be safe and avoid all the puddles….especially if you don’t absolutely know the road.

Clothing – I personally don’t have to worry about having rain gear with me.  No matter how hard it’s raining, or what part of the year it is….it’s always warm in Grenada.  I’m sure having rain-proof clothing would be nice, but I’m totally okay with getting wet.

Fenders/Mask – When I take my mountain bike in the rain, I get soaked from all directions.  The tires seem to have a tread pattern that throws the water from the road directly into my face.  Instead of having fenders for my mountain bike, I get all gangster looking and wear a bandana to cover my nose and mouth.  That way I don’t have to taste the oil and crap from the road as it gets tossed in my face.  I know fenders would be easier, but I’m cheap and things like that are hard to get here in Grenada….so the mask works perfectly fine.

Speed – Roads can get very slippery when wet….especially when on road tires.  If you’re a speed demon like me it can be hard to force yourself to slow it down, but it definitely makes sense to ease up on wet windy roads.

Drivers – It’s almost like some drivers have their brain cells melt away with the rain.  Yeah, you know those people in vehicles who just can’t seem to drive once the rain starts coming down.  Once the moisture hits the air it’s best to be overly proactive, and don’t expect vehicles to necessarily behave in the way you’d expect.

Your Turn

Are you a rain riding expert?  Let us know about your tips for cycling in the rain.

 

  • Eric Hutchins

    Great post and lots of great comments. In addition to CHOOSING to ride in the rain, a lot of folks that commute sometimes have to out of necessity. Cornering on a road bike in the rain is a big issue I think, especially on oily roads that have been heavily used. There is just no way to “ride through” that situation, if you are going to fast, you ARE going down.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Eric…yeah, you’re totally right about commuters. I’ve definitely ridden in more rainy conditions her in Grenada over the past 10 months than I did in all the time I lived in Texas.

  • http://www.macegraphic.com/ Lucas Mace

    On a road bike, drop 10 psi from what you normally fill to keep just a bit more tire in contact with the road.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Great tip….definitely a good one for wet road conditions.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    Nikwax Visor Proof for your eyewear. Agreed about just getting wet when riding in warm rain. Fenders are as much for your bike than for yourself. Ditto Scott’s recommend for lights and bright clothing in heavy rain.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      As always, the master has spoken. It didn’t even occur to me that there was a product available to help eyewear from getting messed up in the rain. Nice one, Mr. Cyclelicious.

    • Yvonne Zipter

      Glad I posted or I wouldn’t have known about Nikwax Visor Proof. I don’t suppose you know of a similar product warding off fogging in cold weather? As a glasses wearer, having my lenses fog up during winter/cold weather riding has been my most difficult problem to solve! (I may consider, again, buying OTG goggles, but the one pair I tried didn’t keep the fogging problem at bay.)

      • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

        For anti-fog, a product called “Cat Crap” is popular for the cold weather crowd, available from hiking and outdoor retailers (and from Amazon, I’m sure).

        Nikwax Visor Proof is kinda like RainX. RainX works much better, but it will also ruin plastic lenses (completely strips lens coatings — yes, I’ve tried it) so don’t use it on your good specs.

        • Yvonne Zipter

          I haven’t had luck with Cat Crap–though I appreciate the recommendation AND the warning about RainX! Guess my quest will continue! Thanks for replying.

          • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

            Cat crap mostly works okay for me. Nothing works w/ goggles for me, or for my glasses if I’m wearing a balaclava unless it’s vented. The ‘clava directs my breath upward into my eyeglasses and fogs everything up. ‘Clavas with mouth vents work the best to avoid fogging in my experience.

          • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

            Thanks again for adding value to this post, Richard.

  • Yvonne Zipter

    I like it when it’s raining–WAY fewer people on the Lakefront Trail, here in Chicago. I wouldn’t mind having a breathable rain jacket, though. But maybe that’s oxymoronic.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Not an oxymoron at all, Yvonne…..if it doesn’t breath, you’d probably end up more wet from sweat than you would from the rain. Thanks for jumping in on this one.

      • Yvonne Zipter

        When I said oxymoronic, I mostly meant if it’s breathable, can it still be waterproof? Because you’re right–I DO end up more wet from sweat than from the rain! I welcome any product recommendations on this score.

  • Scott White

    Don’t forget your blinkies and high vis wear… Anything to help all the other folks on the road see you!

    • Meg

      High visibility is extremely important but be careful about blinkies. A white blinkie is often only legal if you also have a steady one. And police departments caution that debilitated drivers easily fixate on red blinking lights. In any case, it’s best to stick with reflective gear and several steady lights, both front and back.

      • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

        Thanks Meg, we don’t have to worry about too many rules here in Grenada. You should see how many hi beam lights there are at night here on vehicles. Good advice…..thanks.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Scott….definitely a good tip.