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Tips for Cycling in Adverse Weather Conditions

Riding in bad weather is an inevitable part of cycling. Whether facing the wind, rain, snow or heat, here are some tips to help you manage the conditions more effectively and perhaps even find enjoyment in the challenge:

2tips for cycling in adverse weather conditions

Strategic Route Planning

Consider Road Surfaces

Road Riding

Pay close attention to potentially slick surfaces such as crosswalks, painted lines, and metal covers. These can become treacherously slippery in wet conditions. When on slick surfaces, be careful when braking. It is recommended to brake using mostly your front brake, as to reduce the likelihood of fishtailing.

Gravel Riding

Be aware of how gravel paths behave in your area during different weather conditions. Avoid routes that become excessively muddy and can clog up your tires. Mud can also lead to instability when riding.

Mountain Bike Riding

Avoid mountain biking on singletrack trails when they are wet and muddy as this can damage the trail, contribute to erosion, and increase the risk of accidents.

Detect Water Hazards

Puddles and Flooding: Standing water can be deceptive and dangerous, hiding hazards such as deep potholes or sharp objects that can damage your bike or cause injuries. Always reroute or ensure the water’s depth and contents are safe before proceeding. Water depth can be difficult to judge and may make riding impossible.

Stay Near to Shelter

Choose routes that offer quick access to shelter and have less traffic, which can be unpredictable during bad weather. Poor weather can lead to a lack of visibility, making roads potentially dangerous to cyclists. Know your surroundings well enough to find immediate shelter if a sudden storm hits. This can be anything from a coffee shop to an underpass.

Change Route Dynamically

In case there are intense wind conditions, you can look for routes that can shelter you from the wind, for example forested or urban areas. You may also choose to change direction frequently so you’re not facing a headwind for prolonged periods of time.

Go slow to go fast

Take your time and make smart moves instead of trying to go as fast as possible that could make things worse in bad weather

Avoid skidding

Stopping distances can double in snowy or rainy conditions compared to clear weather. When approaching stop signs or intersections, ensure you allow ample space to brake safely and prevent skidding. Brake mostly with the front brake as to reduce the likelihood of locking your back wheel, which could result in instability and fishtailing. Note that disc brakes stop much more effectively in wet conditions. It is best to be conservative with braking, especially if you are not experienced with riding in adverse weather

Dont fight the wind

In headwinds, you will tire yourself out by exerting too much effort to keep up the usual speed. Instead of focusing on maintaining your speed and pace, shift your attention to your power output. It is recommended that most of your riding be at talking pace, meaning you are able to talk, but not sing. This is a good way to gauge how intensely you are riding. If you are struggling to have a conversation on a long distance ride, you may be overexerting yourself.

Adjust to summer weather

During summer, temperatures tend to be lowest in the early morning, especially before sunrise. Humidity is typically higher at this time and decreases by the afternoon. Avoid cycling during the hottest parts of the day. If you would like to ride in these conditions, it is important to let your body adjust. It could take two full weeks to get used to high temperatures.

1-tips for cycling in adverse weather conditions

Wheel and Tire Choice

Ride wider tires

Riding wide tire with a thick tread is beneficial when riding through snow, water, sand, and dirt, as more tread improves traction. In some places, many riders opt for specially-designed studded tires during the snowy months, or they switch to a mountain bike on particularly hazardous days. Consider slightly deflating your tires by roughly 5-10% to increase their grip. However, be cautious not to let out too much air, as cold temperatures will reduce the pressure in your tires. If the temperature is increasing, there will be the opposite effect.

Select the proper wheel rim depth

Choosing the right rim depth for your wheels can be crucial in adverse weather conditions. Deeper rims, typically over 50mm, offer aerodynamic advantages on windy days but can be less stable in strong crosswinds. Shallower rims, between 25mm and 45mm, provide more stability and are generally better suited for wet or particularly windy conditions. Consider crosswinds and weather conditions in your local area when selecting rim depth to ensure optimal performance and safety.

Elitewheels offers carbon fiber wheels designed for different types of riding conditions.

Road Wheels

Drive road wheels are UCI approved and offer a good balance between aerodynamics and lightweight. They come in multiple rim depths, including the Drive 40Ds with a crosswind resistant U/V rim profile. The 21mm internal rim widths of the disc brake version wheels allow you to ride much wider tires, not only improving comfort but also improving grip.

Gravel Wheels

Just like Drive road wheels, the Drive G45 gravel wheelsets excel in all weather conditions. They are crosswind resistant. The G45s also feature double walled waterproof hubs. The 24mm internal rim widths allow you to ride much wider gravel tires, not only improving comfort but also improving grip.

Check the tires after every ride

Rainwater tends to carry various debris onto the roads, causing wet tires to pick up more grime than usual. Therefore, it’s wise to inspect your tires after each ride for flint, glass, and other debris. Additionally, look for any cuts in the tire that could compromise its structure, potentially leading to a flat tire

3tips for cycling in adverse weather conditions

Bring the Right Gear

Put fenders on your bike

No one enjoys being sprayed with mud and rainwater! Attaching fenders to your bike is crucial when cycling in wet snow or rain, as they protect both you and nearby riders and pedestrians.

Even if it stops raining, the roads can still be wet. The dirty water kicked up by your wheels can soak you, making you feel cold and uncomfortable. Fenders effectively shield your feet, lower legs, and back from this grime, keeping you drier and cleaner.

Waterproof Layer

Outdoor enthusiasts understand the significance of layering, especially since hands and feet often receive inadequate protection in cold weather. To ensure a comfortable grip on the brakes, even when wet, wear cycling specific gloves.

A high-quality waterproof cycling jacket is crucial for staying dry and regulating body temperature while cycling in the rain. Choose a jacket made from breathable material to prevent overheating.

Visibility can be significantly reduced in rainy conditions, so wearing reflective clothing will make you more noticeable against the backdrop, improving safety.

1_1tips for cycling in adverse weather conditions

Quality eye protection

Eye protection is crucial in adverse weather conditions. Rain and melting snow can cause spray from cars and other bikes, severely impairing visibility. Additionally, during winter, even on seemingly inviting sunny days, the ground covered in snow can reflect light intensely, compromising visibility. To counter these challenges, investing in quality sunglasses or protective eyewear is highly recommended to ensure clear vision and safety.

Cycling Cap

Air vents in helmets are beneficial in hot weather but less so in the rain. Wearing a simple cycling cap under your helmet can provide effective protection for your head, and its peak can shield your eyes from spray. Additionally, consider adding a hat with a visor beneath your bike helmet to help keep rain off your face.

A Satellite Communicator

A satellite communicator is essential for calling emergency services in rural areas. It’s a vital tool to carry, ensuring you have a way to reach help in potentially unsafe situations or if you find yourself in a dangerous scenario.

Lights

In stormy, dark, foggy, or rainy conditions, equipping your bike with lights makes you more visible on the road. Front lights illuminate the road or path ahead, revealing potential hazards that are hard to see in dim light. Both front and rear lights also make it easier for drivers to spot you.

Use white lights on the front of your bike that are visible from 500 feet and a red taillight on the back that can be seen from 600 feet. Maintaining high visibility is essential.

Water-resistant Plastic bag

Take care to protect your valuable items. It’s vital to use a waterproof bag to place items in that aren’t waterproof and ensure it’s properly sealed

Prepare enough hydration and calories

Always carry more water and energy-rich foods than you think you’ll need, especially in extreme weather conditions. This ensures you stay hydrated and energized, regardless of any delays or extended exposure to the elements.

Always pack at least 1.5 times the hydration and calories you anticipate needing for your ride. Opt for snacks that are accessible and easy to consume, such as gels and energy bars, to ensure you’re getting sufficient calories and electrolytes.

Hydration becomes critical in high temperatures and during exertion in general. Aim to consume at least one 16-oz water bottle per hour of cycling. However, if you are larger or navigating a particularly demanding route, consider carrying more. For instance, a 150-pound cyclist should drink at least one 16-ounce or 500ml bottle per hour, but if you’re heavier or on a challenging path, you might need up to four such bottles per hour.

2_1tips for cycling in adverse weather conditions

Maintain Your Ride

Clean Your Bike

After a rainy ride, just as you should promptly shower and dry off, your bike chain requires similar care. Make sure to wash every exposed part with soap and water. Rider sweat tends to evaporate less in cold and humid conditions. Salt from sweat and nearby saltwater bodies can corrode metal in bolts and delicate groupset parts such as the chain, the shifters, the cassette, derailleurs, etc… Make sure to wash these parts thoroughly.

Use Chain Degreaser

First, apply degreaser to the chain, and then vigorously wipe it down with a rag until it’s dry. This helps extend the chain’s lifespan significantly. It is important to keep the chain clean. The same should be done to the cassette. Additionally, avoid getting degreaser on the hubs, bottom bracket, wheel rims, and brake pads.

Lubricate the Chain

After decreasing the chain and cassette and washing the decreaser off with water, make sure the chain is dry and apply either bike specific wax or oil. For wet conditions, use wet chain lube. For dry conditions, use dry chain lube.

Conclusion

By incorporating these detailed strategies into your cycling routine, you can stay safe and enjoy the challenge of riding in adverse weather conditions. Be prepared, stay safe, and embrace the elements as part of your cycling adventure.

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