Bicycling in the Rain

Iowa’s weather patterns are ever changing.  Most Iowa bicyclists have a keen eye for weather.  The Iowa Bicycle Coalition surveyed members to find out what the top tips for bicycling in the rain are.  Some members advise to avoid riding the rain at all costs.  Others say go ahead and ride in the rain, but remember three important tips:  1. Stay visible, 2. Choose good rain gear, 3. Use caution on slick surfaces.

Stay Visible

The number one tip from Iowa bicyclists is to be visible while riding in the rain.  Headlights and taillights are highly recommended and may be required by law in reduced visibility situations.  Bicyclists should consider the color of their clothing and choose bright colors for rain gear.

Many of the survey responses mentioned eye protection.  Being able to see is just as important as being seen.  Glasses with clear lenses were recommended.  Many bicyclists also recommend wearing a billed hat to keep the falling rain out of your eyes and off your glasses.

Choose Good Rain Gear

Iowa Bicyclists are not particular about the brand or price of rain gear, but they choose rain gear based upon the ability to keep you dry and breathable materials.  One bicyclist recommended a “top notch vented rain jacket with a hood, good rain pants and then some shoe covers that have a long upper that tucks up under your rain pants. With that three-part combo, you can stay dry for hours.”

Many Iowa bicyclists said staying warm is a key to riding in the rain.  You may be wet from rain or sweat, so beware not to develop hypothermia.  Cotton fabrics tend to hold moisture and stay cold.  Synthetic fabrics or wool are recommended clothing choices instead of cotton.

Many riders also recommend fenders.  Most Iowa bicyclists do not enjoy the spray of water from the road or the gritty stripe that adorns your backside after riding in the rain fenderless.

Use Caution on Slick Surfaces

Iowa bicyclists recommend slowing down, planning for increased stopping distances, and increase your turn radius when riding in the rain.  Roads can be slick and oily following rain.  Metal surfaces like drain covers and railroad tracks can be especially slippery.  Roadway paint can also become slick enough to cause a crash, so avoid painted surfaces.

What About My Phone?

Most riders carry expensive electronics like phones, cameras, and GPS devices.  Many retailers sell waterproof cases.  The number-one recommendation for protecting your electronics is a ziplock baggie.

Conclusion

If you choose to ride your bicycle in the rain or you just can’t avoid it, remember three tips:   1. Stay visible, 2. Choose good rain gear, 3. Use caution on slick surfaces.  If there is lightning or the rain is falling so hard you might not be seen on the road, take shelter.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  After your ride, don’t forget to clean and lube your bicycle.