Cycling in the rain

This past Sunday, a small group of us had planned to go down to Augusta to ride the course. It was to be just another training day until the weather changed in hours and chances of rain went from 30% to 80%!! None of us were too thrilled about the rain, but since we had driven down (2.5hrs each way) and since race day weather might throw anything at us, we decided to go ahead with the ride even though I bailed on the swim. (Mr. FauxTriathlete rode the entire summer of his training year in rain. Surely I could handle one ride!)

I was super cautious for the first 20 miles when it was raining steadily (not a torrential downpour luckily). Luckily, it eased up and the day (and the ride) turned out to be great. 

The day before, I had gathered some tips from friends and Mike on riding in the rain. Sharing what I learnt about riding in the rain. 

1. White/yellow lines 

Rain makes these painted stripes extra slippery. Try to ride away from the white/yellow lines. If you have to go over the paint, e.g., while riding across a crosswalk, go easy and do NOT brake or turn while on the paint. 

2. Groups 

Give enough space between yourself and the rider in front of you. The last thing you want is to wipe out when the person in front of you reacts unexpectedly and you don’t have enough time to stop safely.

3. Brakes & Tires

The wetness reduces the effectiveness of brakes. Give yourself plenty of time to brake. The way you do it (feathered braking) remains the same, don’t jam on those brakes. I was also told that slightly less air pressure than usual on the tires help with traction when very rainy. 

4. Cycling cap/visor 

The peak of the cap gives some extra protection from the falling rain. It seemed to help me yesterday. 

5. “Sun”glasses 

Use clear lenses on your glasses. Or photosensitive lenses if you have them. I’d never advise riding without glasses – I got a ton of dirt and debris on my face when a  truck passed by, even though he was going quite slowly. Although in the absolute worst case scenario of rain completely pelting my glasses, I will take them off. Keep a wipe cloth in a baggie so it is dry to wipe the glasses. 

6. Turns/corners 

Take the corners easily. Slow down and make a wide turn. Safety always over speed. 

7. Water on the roads 

Avoid riding through water on the roads even though it sounds like fun. Especially the water patches with rainbows. Not in the sky, but on the roads. The initial rain causes the oil buildup on roads to rise to the surface, causing the road to be slick. The rainbow edge patches of water are an indication of oil to stay away from. 

8. Ziploc Baggies 

These are a great asset in rain (or sweat). Anything that you put in your bento box, put it in a ziploc baggie first. Marietta told me about the year she did Augusta 70.3 and when it rained the entire ride and all her snacks (peanut butter pretzels) turned into mush in the wetness. 

9. Dress for the weather 

If it is on the colder side when it rains, wear a vest or a jacket. Barbara’s favorite is a vest with removable arms. Cover your shoes if needed. My socks were squelchy wet in about 30minutes. I had a pair of dry socks to change out to after the ride for the run. 

10. Lights 

Turn your bike into a moving Christmas tree. You need to make extra sure that everyone notices you – front and back. I have blinky rechargeable LED lights, red for the back and white for the front. I wouldn’t mind getting a couple more. There’s nothing as too many lights. 

cyling in the rain
None of us were witchy enough or sugary enough to melt in the rain :)

 If you are a newbie cyclist be cautious but not scared.

Many opt not to ride in the rain because they don’t want a potential incident due to conditions/bike handling but riding in the rain is just another condition of riding and gives you much needed practice for possible rain on race day. 


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10 Tips for Riding in the Rain
  • Great tips! I had never ridden in the rain before, then my first tri was in hard, driving, blinding rain. I took the bike very carefully to say the least!

    • Thanks Marcia. We were lucky that it wasn’t blinding rain! I am still nervous about time cutoffs on the bike and hope and pray that it will be a nice cool cloudy race day!!

  • I’m too shaky on a bike in good sunny weather much less in the rain 🙂 I’m the one who always falls & busts a face easily. We all have that friend 🙂

    • Haha … I think I was full of dutch courage when I rode – I didn’t want to appear to be a wimp 🙂
      I’m learning to slowly love the bike though.

  • I had to do a tri in the rain a few years back and I have never been so scared in my life. Can’t believe I made it through without wiping out. Looking strong!

  • Great tips! The other thing I would suggest are fenders (clip ons if you have a race bike). Portland Design Works makes a nice and relatively inexpensive set of clip ins and they really help reduce the water spray off the tires.