“Go out and ride in the rain.” That’s the advice Kate Veronneau—a guide with Thomson Bike Tours—gives to everyone who signs up for one of her trips to dream destinations. Because while it’s always 75 and sunny in your daydreams, the real world doesn't work that way. “It’s important to know how your bike handles and how to handle your bike in the rain, as well as how to dress to be confident and comfortable in those conditions,” she says.
That’s good advice for all of us. If you ride long enough, you'll eventually get caught in downpour—so you might as well just go out and ride in the stuff. Learn from it. Heck, play in it. Because once you embrace the weather others eschew, you’ll blossom as a cyclist like a flower in May, rife with skills and strengths that will spill into the rest of your life. Before you know it, you might actually start to like riding in the rain. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, here are some good reasons you should occasionally do it anyway.
Better Bike Handling
Riding in the rain is more dangerous than riding in dry conditions for an obvious reason: slippery when wet.
The road itself is slicker. Painted surfaces and metal road obstacles are like ice. It takes longer to stop and it’s easier to slide out, so you need to brake earlier and lighter, especially on wet descents. Tires lose purchase more easily in turns, so you need to keep your body more upright through corners. Slowly and carefully, you can approach these scenarios and learn to navigate them safely—straight line, no sudden moves, dismounting when prudent. Every time you do it, the easier it will become.
More: How to Ride in the Rain
You know that rain jacket you thought was waterproof? You’ll learn whether that’s really true about 40 minutes into a rainy ride. You’ll soon find a rain jacket that actually meets your needs, and you’ll master the art of layering to let your body breathe while keeping the rain out. You’ll grow to appreciate fenders for reducing the spray on your back and rain caps for blocking the drops from your eyes. You’ll understand the traction benefits of dropping your tire pressure by 10 or 15psi. 'Blinkies' and 'hi-vis' will enter your vocabulary. Before you know it, you’ll barely notice a little rain.
You’ll Be More Consistent
Unless you live where the sun always shines, rainy days or spells (or seasons...) can put huge dents in your saddle time. Salvage those ride streaks by shreddin' rain or shine.
Seeing onlookers gape as you blast through conditions they don’t wouldn't even drive in never gets old. Family and friends will call you crazy, but you’ll know that deep inside, they’re wishing they had just an ounce of your chutzpah.
All the skills gained and wisdom earned will give you more confidence when faced with rainy days, both on and off the bike. Because let’s face it, if you can ride through a stormy downpour with your body and mind intact, you’re ready for pretty much whatever.
You’ll Feel Like a Kid
Splashing through puddles is fun. Everyone knows it as a kid; they forget it as adults. Riding in the rain allows you to recapture those gems from your childhood. (Learn 21 other ways to have more fun while riding.)
People tend to stay inside when it’s raining. That means you have the road, path, or trail to yourself. You’ll notice beauty where you may have previously just passed it by. Colors pop against the gray backdrop. You’ll wonder why you don’t ride solo in the rain more often.
Greater Appreciation for Comfort
When the thrill wears off and you get a little chilled and weary of the wet, there’s always the warmth of home to return to. Hot soup and a La-Z-Boy never feel so luxurious as they do after you’ve peeled off drenched cycling clothes, pulled on some fleecy PJs and settled in with the satisfaction of having braved the elements.
Oh, and those sunny days? They’ll be simply glorious.
Ready to ride? Search for a cycling event.