It’s that time of the year in Brisbane. Days of high heat, followed by days of suffocating humidity, followed by days of torrential downpour. It’s a familiar cycle for anyone who has spent more than one summer in Brissy.
Can you still ride your bike on rainy days in Brisbane? Absolutely! In fact, the cool change can be very welcome at times. But there are some modifications you should consider making, and we’ve tried to compress our top tips for wet weather riding into this blog post!
1. Lights (camera and action optional)
Lights are always important, but they are rarely more important than in the rain. Not only is it darker because it’s overcast, but drivers in cars have worse visibility in the rain. Making sure you are visible to everyone on the road needs to be your number one priority in the rain. Speaking of…
2. Waterproof hi-vis jacket
Your jacket should probably stay true to the ethos of keeping you seen and keeping you alive. Bright fluorescent colours will do wonders for that.
Your jacket should also be waterproof. As most experienced cyclists will know, the combination of windchill and being soaking wet is gruelling, and should be avoided if you can. Remember, though, that your waterproof jacket needs to have adequate ventilation because riding in the equivalent of a plastic bag is also a terrible experience.
3. Overshoes, gloves and a cap
When riding in cold conditions, it’s important that we do our best to cover and protect extremities because they will be affected first and worst. That means feet, hands and head.
Water resistant overshoes will keep your feet dry while you push pedals in the rain, and are a godsend. Waterproof gloves are also great, and will add a layer of protection from the windchill of the lowered temperatures.
The vents on your helmet are invaluable during scorching Brisbane summer days…. During those infamous afternoon storms? Not so much. Simply adding a cycling cap will keep most of the windchill off you. Plus, the peak should give your eyes some protection from rain droplets.
4. Wear glasses
Apropos protecting your eyes from the rain! The roads are slippery, cars seem less trustworthy, and the last thing you want is to get hit in the eye by a big raindrop. Dark glasses aren’t a good choice when it rains, so you should opt for clear or yellow lenses.
Water and droplets collecting on your lenses are also problematic, and many people avoid glasses for this reason, but you should know that there are hydrophobic sprays that treat your lenses and help you avoid this entirely!
5. Lower your tyre pressure
Riding in wet conditions means that you need to worry about your road grip, especially if it’s the first rain in weeks, as if often the case in Brisbane. Oils that have been building up in cracks of the road surface for a long time will be lifted up by rainwater, and will now be on your tyres and in your path. Not to mention, the wet is slippery in itself!
Lower your tyre pressure to give yourself a larger contact surface with the road and improve your grip. Some cyclists lower their tyre pressure by as much as 10-15 psi, but you should find what you’re comfortable with. You’ll be less efficient, but more safe. Ultimately, that seems like a good trade-off to us.
6. Avoid white lines
Many of you may have been unfortunate enough to experience how slippery the white lane markings can be in the dry, and they are even more dangerous in the wet.
Take extra care to be aware of the white lines, and try to avoid them if possible – especially on corners or zebra crossings.
7. Slow down and ride to conditions (and avoid puddles)
Riding in wet conditions isn’t inherently dangerous, it just carries more risk than perfect weather. Knowing this is half the battle, and changing your riding to suit the conditions is the other half. In general, it’s smart to slow down and take it easy. Now is not the time to push for a PB on your favourite route. Taking corners more slowly, as mentioned above, is very important. You should also take extra care to slow down if you’re on a route you’re not familiar with.
If at all possible, you should avoid puddles. Not just because they’ll splash you with dirty water, but more importantly because you have no way of knowing what hides underneath the surface.
We can all imagine what could happen if you ride into a deep pothole or a puddle hiding a big rock going at 40 km/h.