There is a certain indescribable joy about being in the rain. Gene Kelly's famous song of 1952, I'm Singing in the Rain captures this beautifully and the lyrics give you a sense of what it is like...
I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place...
If you have not tried riding your bicycle in the rain, perhaps it's time to give it a go. Our upcoming ride in Thailand was deliberately chosen in the middle of the monsoon season for this simple reason. Here in the tropics, cycling in 35c blazing sun with high humidity literally gives me a bad migraine. On the other hand, gliding through the cool breeze with fresh raindrops peltering on your face with the sound of your tires splashing through the wet road is totally magically!
Here are some tips to help make riding in the rain much more enjoyable and safer that have worked for me over the many years of touring in the rain. Many are common sense really.
1. Mudguards/Fenders - Though most unsexy nor glamorous, it is a real must for wet weather comfort. Getting water constantly up your back and everywhere from spinning tires is most uncomfortable.
2. Lights for visibility - This is certainly compromised in the rain and it is essential to be seen in traffic for added safety. Front and rear lights, preferably in blinking mode is a must.
3. Da Brim helmet visor - Much have been written about this before but I consider this a most essential equipment in wet weather riding. Worn together with a shower cap over the helmet, it provides comfort, shelter and most important of all, helps us to see the view in front even in the heaviest downpours. If you need more info on Da Brim, click here.
4. Rain gear - The perennial question of whether to don a rain coat often comes to me and my answer is I prefer to ride without one if it is in the tropics. Reason is that it can get so hot like a sauna while cycling! I rather just ride in my normal bike attire sans padded shorts. When soaked wet, those padded shorts is liken to riding with soiled diapers. When it gets chilly, I wear a light wind breaker.
5. Foot wear - Shoes and socks work well in the dry, not so in the rain. I use cheap plastic "Croc" sandals when I tour. The key is to make sure it grips well in the wet and has covered toe area for safety. Yes, it looks very uncool but for me it works! It helps too that is is cheap - about US$10 or less.
6. A dry towel - Kept in a waterproof bag in my jersey. It's nice to be able to wipe your face and glasses dry from time to time.
7. Chain lube - Very essential as all the rain will wash away any lubrication on the chain. A simple rag to clean the muck off the chain and a quick lube will do wonders.
For this trip, I have decided to use my Bike Friday Tikit and it comes equipped with high performance Schwalbe Kojak tires that are slicks. This is by far the best road tires and offers exceptional cornering lean angles. However in wet roads, this is certainly not ideal and I have swapped the front tire to regular threaded Schwalbe Marathon for better wet weather traction.
I have left the rear alone as a rear skid is very controllable and does not bother me much. However if you lose your front, it takes a highly skilled cyclist to recover and I don't have that skill.
Shoot me any questions if you have and if I can help, it is my pleasure. Meanwhile, here is Gene Kelly's classic song which I hope will inspire you to go riding and singing in the rain!