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  1. #1
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Any Tips on Riding in the Rain?

    Thinking "if the pros can ride in the rain, so can I", I did a rain ride a few days ago. It was a steady moderate rain, not a downpour or anything. Well, after two hours I was truly wet and miserable, not to mention SLOW. My bike had water draining out the bottom when I placed it on the car rack. (Road bike with no fenders... titanium, thank heavens.) There was drivetrain noise I don't normally hear.

    Had my Showers Pass Rain Jacket on (pit zips open though), Garneau "waterproof" booties (HA!), Hincapie skull cap under my helmet... I should be fairly dry no? Well, no. Absolutely no. I wasn't riding very hard so I don't think the moisture came from within... but I can't be totally sure. Perhaps I should have used my over the helmet rain cover, but I didn't. Well, if this had been a longer ride on a tour for example, I would have surely been SOL.

    Tips and tricks for rain riding from veterans who do that sort of thing would be welcome. (I'm aware that a certain amount of HTFU is going to be called for, of course.)

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  2. #2
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Riding in the rain is just like sailing in stormy weather. Even though one will wear "foul weather gear", expect to be cold, wet, and miserable.

    Unless unexpectedly caught out, it's not worth it. I'd have to tear the whole drivetrain down to clean and re-lubricate it. Just not worth it. Maybe that is why they make indoor trainers?
    Deut 6:5

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  3. #3
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    "Titanium, thank heavens"

    LOL. Carbon Fibre isn't soluble, Aluminium doesn't corrode, and contrary to rumour, I have never seen a properly-maintained steel road bike with a serious rust problem.

    If you ride in the rain you are going to get wet. Rain jackets work to an extent, ut even the most expensive " breathable" fabric does not breathe well enough to cope with your sweat when you are cycling at a moderate pace. You get wet from the inside, unless it's very cold - and that is pretty much what rain jackets are good for, to keep you from getting cold and wet instead of just wet.

    Waterproof shoe covers work within limits, but water tends to get in from the top. A combination of shoe covers and sealskinz socks (they have a gore-tex liner) can work.

    Skull caps, or a buff twisted to function as one, are useful IMO. They don't keep you dry, exactly, but they do reduce the random streams of water coming off your hair over your face.

    The drivetrain noise is your chain. Dry lubes wash off in the rain. Don't worry too much about it, just dry it off and re-lube it when you get home.

    This won't have been much comfort to you. The answer is, nothing will keep you dry so just HTFU and get used to it. Personally I have no problem riding in the rain, it's riding in the rain and wind at low temperatures that is unpleasant. As long as it is reasonably warm, I just get wet. So far, there's no sign of me or the bike dissolving. LOL.

    EDIT volosong, the idea that one has to strip down the whole drivetrain every time one gets rained on is ridiculous, IMO. In places where it rains more often than SoCal, bikes continue to function perfectly well and nobody strips them down on a daily basis.
    Last edited by chasm54; 05-02-12 at 12:58 PM.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  4. #4
    VNA
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    Riding in the rain can be fun because you feel like a little kid, but the most important thing is to keep moving so you stay warm.

    Fenders are incredibly helpful, not only your butt will not get wet, but your feet will be drier although eventually will get wet.

    Fenders when weather is dry will keep your bike much cleaner as well.

    Ride smoothly, no hard/harsh moves and be aware your brakes will take longer to stop, and may grab.

    I will not start a ride in the rain, but often will get caught in it during the winter months.

    Cars may not see you as well with their windshield wipers on, so bright blinking lights will help.

  5. #5
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    1) Mudguards, FTW.

    2) Kevlar belted tires and "slime" tubes. Flats are more common in the rain, and much less pleasant to deal with when it's raining.

    3) Wool cycling clothing. Wool keeps you warm even when wet.

    4) Have a designated "rain bike" that won't get you upset when it comes home dripping and covered with mud, worms, etc. and you can leave the heavy slime tubes and mudguards in place waiting for inclement weather.

    5) Internal gear hub. Why wear out your expensive derailleurs with all the grit that accumulates when riding in the rain?
    Last edited by JohnDThompson; 05-02-12 at 02:06 PM.

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    +1 on the fenders VNA mentioned.
    I keep a baseball hat in my bag for the rain. I wear it under my helmet, keeps the rain off my glasses so I can see.
    Also turn on your lights, as cars cannot see you so well with their wipers going..or if they work well.
    I also keep a saddle cover velcrod under my saddle I can pop on when it rains. Don't want to wreck my brooks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    EDIT volosong, the idea that one has to strip down the whole drivetrain every time one gets rained on is ridiculous, IMO. In places where it rains more often than SoCal, bikes continue to function perfectly well and nobody strips them down on a daily basis.
    Sorry. My ignorance. It only rains about 5 inches a year where I live. I also disassemble and clean my drivetrain about once every three or four weeks anyway. Not that it really needs it, but just to keep it clean and running smooth.
    Deut 6:5

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  8. #8
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    1)
    Internal gear hub. Why wear out your expensive derailleurs with all the grit that accumulates when riding in the rain?
    IGHs are very nice, though you don't see that many on titanium road bikes like the OP is riding. But in my considerable experience of being rained on, derailleurs don't suffer much. The things that suffer most are rims, because the wet debris gets ground into a fine paste by your brakes.

    For derailleurs etc the real bugbear is salt, in the winter. That's when I'd take volosong's advice and minutely clean the drivetrain, it's a component-killer.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I never use fenders as they have a tendency to get fouled up with wheels and gears with the vibration of our rough roads. Plus I am going to get wet in any case so why bother for the 200 days a year it is going to persist down (And that is even with the drought conditions we are experiencing over here--I am up to my ankles in drought already)

    But as soon as possible after the ride I wash it down.Would be a hosepipe but they are banned in our drought conditions. Then the Ubiquitous WD40 or something similar over the whole of the drive chain and anything else made of steel. Cables are released and WD sprayed down them and left released till later. In fact on the Ally bikes I spray the whole bike and just keep the WD away from the saddle- Brake blocks- bar tape and tyres. Chain is put through the cleaning device aswell with an extra rinse of WD.

    I Then shake and leave for a couple of hours- Or days if no time to sort then. Then when I do re-assemble the bike- I use a rag to wipe the frame etc and DRY chain lube down the cable inners and to lubricate the Bearings on the Derailleurs. Wheel brake rims are thoroughly cleaned of any residue of WD and brake blocks are cleaned of the dirt that washing did not remove.

    On the ride-I learnt years ago to get a variety of Top coats. I do have a Goretex for the real downpours but that is only in winter when it is cold. In fact realise that when it rains you will get cold so ensure you have adequate layers on for the temps. I normally ride with a waterproof over top that is completely water and wind proof. I could sweat in it but it have plenty of vents to allow though put of air and if I do get hot then it has a full length zip. Legs and if warm then nothing extra but if cool or cold then tights are worn.

    Only thing is that if you ride in the rain a lot- then parts will wear out quicker- or need more maintenance on bearings. Wheel bearing are checked regularly and headsets. Chains do not go on time or distance and they get measured for wear at least every month.

    I still don't like riding in the rain though.Too much work involved but it does mean I check my bikes continually.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    I ride in the rain some due to a few 5 to 7 day tour rides each year. The showers pass jacket will keep you wet if - you keep the pit zippers up when it is raining and you use the hood. Without the hood you WILL get wet. Also, I use the showers pass rain pants which go over the tops of my covers. I can stay very nearly dry in a moderate rain if I get properly dressed. However, getting wet, except in a cold driving rain, is not all that bad. Stay off the painted areas.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  11. #11
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Rain gear is good when it is cool or cold, but when I ride in summer rain, I don't wear anything extra. I just get wet. It usually feels pretty good. The bike does get a bit grungy and needs a good wipedown and lubing, but other than that it's just a ride. It always seems worse thinking about riding in rain than it actually feels while doing it.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  12. #12
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    I ride in the rain some due to a few 5 to 7 day tour rides each year. The showers pass jacket will keep you wet if - you keep the pit zippers up when it is raining and you use the hood. Without the hood you WILL get wet. Also, I use the showers pass rain pants which go over the tops of my covers. I can stay very nearly dry in a moderate rain if I get properly dressed. However, getting wet, except in a cold driving rain, is not all that bad. Stay off the painted areas.
    I'm confused... is this a typo? Do you really mean the SP jacket will keep you dry.....? Yes I may try one of the hoods.

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  13. #13
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Rain gear is good when it is cool or cold, but when I ride in summer rain, I don't wear anything extra. I just get wet. It usually feels pretty good. The bike does get a bit grungy and needs a good wipedown and lubing, but other than that it's just a ride. It always seems worse thinking about riding in rain than it actually feels while doing it.
    I hear what you're saying. For my ride it must have been about 60 deg. and a little breezy and it was surprisingly cold once I got wet and stopped. On a longer ride the stops for food and rest would have been the biggest problem.

    The bike being harmed doesn't worry me much, if at all. I just cleaned it off and re-oiled and everything seems fine. (I am still glad I wasn't on one of my steel bikes... guess I'm a bit of a worrywort about the rust thing.)

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  14. #14
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    The bike being harmed doesn't worry me much, if at all. I just cleaned it off and re-oiled and everything seems fine. (I am still glad I wasn't on one of my steel bikes... guess I'm a bit of a worrywort about the rust thing.)
    Steel bikes don't rust from being ridden in the rain. You mentioned above that water was draining out of the bottom after you rode. That is the water leaving through the holes that allow ventilation to dry the inside of the tubes. As long as water doesn't sit in the frame for weeks/months, rust is not a problem. For insurance, inside the tubes can be treated with frame-saver or some similar rust preventing coating. I rode my Bridgestone RB-1 in the rain many times during the 18-1/2 years I rode it. It took a car hitting it to take it out, rust didn't get to it.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  15. #15
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Sorry Billydonn, I can't help you like some of these guys can. I hate being out in the rain, let alone have to ride in it. If I'm riding and get caught in the rain, I'll try and find a place to wait it out, especially if the rain is a heavy downpour. In a light rain or drizzle, I will try and make it home or the start of my ride, if it's not that far away.
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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    (I am still glad I wasn't on one of my steel bikes... guess I'm a bit of a worrywort about the rust thing.)
    Really, this is not a problem. Steel bikes will, of course, rust if you leave them outside for weeks at a time in all weathers, or store them in a canal, or something. But with even moderate care they won't rust much. I recently acquired a 1984 Raleigh touring bike. It clearly hasn't been treated with kid gloves, there are chips and scratches everywhere, it was filthy when I got it, the drivetrain was pretty much clapped out. But there is virtually no rust whatever on the frame, the chromed forks had only tiny spots, easily removed, the only real signs of corrosion were superficial oxidisation on the threads of the bottle-cage braze-ons - no problem. This is a 28 year-old bike with a lot of miles on it. It is absolutely fine. No shower of rain is going to do it any harm.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  17. #17
    Getting older and slower!
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    As for riding in the rain, avoid the painted part of the road and walk, don't ride, over metal, i.e. railroad tracks.

  18. #18
    astro
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    Thinking "if the pros can ride in the rain, so can I", I did a rain ride a few days ago. It was a steady moderate rain, not a downpour or anything. Well, after two hours I was truly wet and miserable, not to mention SLOW. My bike had water draining out the bottom when I placed it on the car rack. (Road bike with no fenders... titanium, thank heavens.) There was drivetrain noise I don't normally hear.

    Had my Showers Pass Rain Jacket on (pit zips open though), Garneau "waterproof" booties (HA!), Hincapie skull cap under my helmet... I should be fairly dry no? Well, no. Absolutely no. I wasn't riding very hard so I don't think the moisture came from within... but I can't be totally sure. Perhaps I should have used my over the helmet rain cover, but I didn't. Well, if this had been a longer ride on a tour for example, I would have surely been SOL.

    Tips and tricks for rain riding from veterans who do that sort of thing would be welcome. (I'm aware that a certain amount of HTFU is going to be called for, of course.)
    Yup - if you ride for a while in the rain, you're going to get wet. But, once you get soaking wet, you can't get any wetter! The real problem is the cold, so you need some kind of jacket to keep you warm and maybe a helmet cover to keep your head dry and warm. I second what others have said about fenders and flats. I always carry some plastic bags (ziploc freezer bags) so if it starts raining, I can put my wallet, cell phone, and whatever else might need to stay dry in the plastic bags. On organized tours, this includes the cue sheet. In fact, I usually put the cue sheet in a bag just to protect from sweat, water bottle drips, whatever, even if it's not raining.

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    Riding in the rain, or just going for a ride as we call it around here as it rains more often than not. No big bother.

    For me, my clothing is dependent upon the temperature.

    Warm weather....just a jersey and cycling shorts. I was once caught in a downpour that was so severe, each raindrop felt like I'd been shot with a BB yet once the storm passed my clothing dried out before I even get home. (I ride a recumbent, think about that one for a minute. ) Light weight clothes dry quickly if the rain stops and you're dry before you know it.

    Cold weather....I usually only commute in cold rain, not prone to leisure rides in cold conditions. I wear rain gear that doesn't breath and I find that I stay relatively dry if I don't push too hard, and I stay warm.

    Foot gear....Having worked in wet conditions my whole life, I'm accustomed to wet feet so I don't worry about shoe covers. I'm no help to you there.

    Head gear....I always use a visored helmet with an exterior rain cover. Keeps your head warm and dry and does a fair job of keeping the glasses clear of raindrops.

  20. #20
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    The thing about rain and being wet is it leads to hypothermia which is insidious and catches one by surprise. Suddenly, you are not just wet but very cold. From workshops on hiking and backpacking conducted by the Appalachian Mountain Club, as well as my own subsequent experience, considerable heat is lost through your head which has a quite good blood supply. Body temperature can be regulated well just by donning or removing a hat. Wet hands also will lose body heat rapidly.

    In your case, a shower cap would prevent evaporative heat loss but in a serious downpour water would run down your neck into a rain coat. My own preference is a jacket with a hood that can be raised or lowered as necessary.

    A few years ago I was on a 10 day backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies. This trip was on the Continental Divide at mostly 10-12 thousand feet. One afternoon it began to sprinkle and after a while steady rain. I was moving along generating heat while wearing a rain jacket and pants and carrying a 45 pound pack. I suddenly began to feel cold and within a few minutes, very cold and realized my hands were so numb I worried about getting gloves out of the pack. I had difficulty unbuckling the pack and then unzipping the top compartment where I had waterproof gloves. I did get the gloves on and within a few minutes I was toasty warm.

    The point of my tale is to illustrate how quickly the situation can deteriorate. This is why people get in trouble in the mountains. I would look to a decent rain jacket with hood and, maybe kayaking neopreme gloves. On my feet, in cold weather, I use waterproof Sealskin socks with regular cycling shoes. If it is very cold and near freezing, I'm skiing so have not needed or purchased insulated cycling shoes.

  21. #21
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Wool. Sheep use it.

  22. #22
    Seņor Blues on the path's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cychologist View Post
    .... walk, don't ride, over metal, i.e. railroad tracks.
    And steel-deck bridges. LORDY
    IMO, FWIW, CFM, YMMV, E PLURIBUS UNUM

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    As long as it is not cold, you can do it,,I got caught in the rain last week,,once you are wet you cant even stop and get outta the rain cause you will get chilled and once chilled you will never get warm again till you get inside and dry. Once wet you gotta keep going no matter how hard it is raining so you dont get chilled.

    I find riding in difficult conditions very empowering, makes feel like I am tough lol.

    I ride all winter and I live in Michigan.

    I am a 58 year old male.

    Today I did 16 miles on a 75 pound 1948 Schwinn Auto Cycle 6 miles on the way home directly into a strong wind,,now that is some work,,,worse than riding in the rain.

  24. #24
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    Wear as little as you can -- it keeps the sweat down.

    Wear thin wool socks -- they don't hold as much water.

    Ditto thin gloves and chamois -- they're yucky when they go "squish."

    Fenders keep crud off you and your bike. Put some on if you're going to make a habit of riding in the rain.

    Keep going until you're done -- it always drops 20 degrees when you stop.

    Oil the chain as soon as it dries. Wipe the bike down when you get home.

  25. #25
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by volosong View Post
    Riding in the rain is just like sailing in stormy weather. Even though one will wear "foul weather gear", expect to be cold, wet, and miserable.

    Unless unexpectedly caught out, it's not worth it. I'd have to tear the whole drivetrain down to clean and re-lubricate it. Just not worth it. Maybe that is why they make indoor trainers?
    Cold, wet, and miserable....NOT.
    Fenders, check.
    Goretex gloves, check.
    Hat under helmet or helmet cover, check.
    Shoe covers, check.
    Water resistant tights, check.
    Water resistant jacket with pit zips and lots of vents, check.

    Riding in the rain can be just fine. And warmer weather allows you to pass on the shoe covers, tights, etc. Wind and rain can be less than pleasurable, but in general the rain is ok for riding. Better than a trainer.

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