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Thursday, March 12, 2015

A ride in the rain is something that cyclists should always be prepared for

A ride in the rain is something that cyclists should always be prepared for
By:  Michael Lander

It isn't always possible to avoid getting caught out in the rain while riding, but
always being prepared and taking some precautions can help to greatly
minimize the risks.

Dolly Parton once said that the way that she saw it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

Most of us might tend to agree with her about that, and we may even find a nugget of wisdom in what she said.  Rainbows or not, though, riding a bike in the rain isn’t exactly an enjoyable thing that most cyclists really care to do.

Granted, after riding in a typical hot and humid summer day in Memphis, and being completely drenched in sweat, a brief summer shower might actually feel like a welcomed respite from the heat.  For some, this might be a quick and satisfying way to cool down.

As great it might feel at first, however, riding in the rain isn’t exactly something that most of us try to set out to do, and for good reason.

As any experienced and well-seasoned cyclist knows, riding in the rain can be an extremely treacherous and dangerous endeavor.  In a really heavy and torrential downpour, it can be hard to see and to be seen, especially if you’re not dressed appropriately.

On top of that, there is also the added risk of not only possibly being hit by a car, but being hit by lightning or running over what looks like a puddle that turns out to be a pothole. 

If this were not enough, there is also the added problem of your brakes not working quite as well and your tires losing some traction on the road.  You can also experience problems with grit and grime coming up off the road, which can cause problems for your bicycle chain and other components on your bike.

When considering all of the risks that are involved, it is usually best to avoid riding in the rain, but when you must do it, (like those who must commute by bicycle, for example), you can take some precautions that might help keep you relatively safe and as dry as you can be under the circumstances.

Cyclists have many issues to be concerned with when riding in rainy weather.
Decreased visibility is one that they should always be cognizant and aware of
so that others on the road will be able to see and avoid them.

The first step you should always do is to check the weather forecast before you leave out so that you don’t ever get caught off guard.

After that, you should make sure that you dress in some bright and reflective clothing with a light rain-resistant jacket, if necessary.  Your bike should also be equipped with lights on the front and back of it and it should have reflectors as well.
If you have any idea that there is a potential for rain, you can slightly under-inflate your bicycle tires so that they will have better traction on the surface of the road.

If you have pouches for carrying things, and they aren’t already waterproof, you can spray Scotchgard on them to help prevent things from getting soaking wet.  It is also a good idea to always have some Ziploc plastic bags with you for added protection of those things that you don’t want to see get wet. 

As with any ride, you should always carry a phone to call someone if you need for someone to help you or to come pick you up.  If you’re out riding and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a thunderstorm, you should immediately take cover.  There is no place that you have to go that is ever worth possibly getting struck by lightning for.

If you have ever had trouble with your hands being wet or you’ve had moisture on your cell phone screen, you know that it can affect your phone from responding properly to your touch.  To remedy this, you can cut the tips off of some dishwashing gloves and, by using one of these, you should be able to get the screen on your phone to respond to your touch or to any swiping motion that you make.

Since getting caught in the rain can sometimes be unavoidable, it is better to be safe than sorry.  Preparing for the worst is always better than actually having to experience the worst.     

With just a little preparation, and by taking a few preventive measures before you ride, you can avoid a lot of aggravation and help minimize some of the unnecessary risks in being out in bad weather.

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