The weather reports are calling for rain during our celebration of biking but don’t let that stop you from celebrating Bike to Work Day!
When you’re prepared to be out in the rain your experience can be refreshing, relaxing, and downright adventurous. So here are some tips for rain preparedness:
Bike to Work in the Rain Day!
Fenders: These plastic shields frame your front and rear wheels and single-handedly prevent many wet behinds and soaked shoes.
Second change of clothes: At minimum pack a second change of clothes, and even a change of underwear. Pack anything you may need to freshen up your hair, and if you need to really freshen up, pack wet wipes to wipe yourself down.
Rain jacket or poncho: You can pick up a cheap poncho to store in your bike bag, or invest in a lightweight rain jacket (this option avoids heat-trapping plastics). The more breathable the better because you can pretty easily get more wet by sweating than by the rain; pit-zips are a plus. Specifically designed rain ponchos, often called rain capes, provide better opportunities for airflow, but are still compact.
Rain pants: Rain pants are a major plus, especially because these can be used in cold snowy conditions as well. If you aren’t up for buying a new pair of rain pants and it’s warm out, try out athletic shorts that you can change out of once you get to your destination.
Cycling cap or bandanna: If you want to keep your hair dry, try out a cycling cap or bandanna under your helmet.
Glasses: Clear-lens glasses shield your eyes from heavy rain and help with visibility.
Breathable shoes or shoe covers: You can purchase some cheap booties that cover just about any kind of shoe, and still give you the grip and range of motion you need. Plastic grocery bags are a cheap solution.
Bike bag: Consider investing in a waterproof backpack, messenger bag, purse, or pannier to keep your everyday essentials dry and cared for.
Brightly colored clothing: This is where the bright neon colors and reflective accessories in your closet can come in handy. A lightweight reflective vest is a low-cost accessory that’s easy to carry with you at all times.
Bike Lights: Front and rear lights are required on your bikes even in sunny weather, but in the rain it’s even more important to have lights on your person and your bike.
Lane placement: Most of your visibility power is in your position on the road and how you communicate with other road users. Do what you can to make yourself the most visible and most predictable among your fellow road users. If there are no bike lanes present, position yourself in the middle of the lane. If there are bike lanes present, ride to the far left-hand side of the bike lane to avoid the door zone. If you’re on a trail, always yield to walkers and joggers. When communicating passing and turning to drivers, other bicyclists, and pedestrians do your best to use hand signals make eye contact, and use verbal cues if necessary. This is all basic bike know-how, but having it under your belt will make your rain-riding experience more safe, and therefore better.
Be cautious: if you haven’t already, you will certainly figure out your rain riding style with time. It may mean you need to ride a little slower to feel more alert and in control.
Avoid slippery surfaces and puddles: Do your best to avoid street car tracks, gutters, grates, white street markings, piles of leaves, and anything that becomes slippery when wet. You do not have to worry about bike lanes that are painted green; the green paint is not the same as slick thermoplastic white street markings and instead has a granular texture to help prevent slipping.
Lightly use your brakes: Also called “feathering your brakes” which means, avoid quickly pulling your brake levers too hard. Instead lightly pulse both front and rear brakes equally with consistent pressure as needed.
Follow your Gene Kelly intuitions: You will probably find yourself singing more in the rain, and you may hear the occasional, “WEEeeeeeEEE!” and some “WoooIiiPEEE!’”s Because as usual, your bike ride should be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.