This year, the Farm to Fork Fondo – Finger Lakes was a wet one! Although I admit to dreading being soaked for several hours, the event reminded me that there is something special about riding in the rain and it turned out to be a great day!
There are several things to consider when riding in the rain to ensure that it is still an enjoyable experience for you and anyone that you are riding with. For instance, if you are riding with others, you should mount fenders to your bike – and you should also add an extender at the bottom of the rear fender. It should be as close to the ground as possible to prevent water and grit from splashing into other riders’ faces. An extender could be made from an old water bottle or using an “Ass Saver” such as those sold in the Farm to Fork Fondo store. If you’re riding alone and it’s not too rainy, you can just use an “Ass Saver” on your saddle to prevent a line of mud being painted from your shorts to the top of your jersey.
Thicker tires with lower tire pressure should be used because of extra debris on the road. If you do a lot of riding in the rain, like I did when I lived in Vancouver, consider using a cyclocross bike if you have the means. Furthermore, carbon braking surfaces on wheels don’t work as well as aluminum in the rain so save your carbon wheels for nicer weather if possible.
In terms of your attire, of course you know to wear waterproof jackets and gloves. However, I’d say the most important thing is to wear shoe covers. You can even wrap your feet (over your socks) in plastic bags before putting your feet in your shoes for extra protection from the rain. After the ride, dry your shoes by putting newspaper inside of them to absorb the water overnight.
During the ride, avoid patches of oil which look like rainbows and don’t corner through the center of the road where patches of oil are likely to be. Try to be careful of riding over manhole covers or leaves which are slippery when wet. Do not ride through puddles which may be deeper than they appear. Lastly, steer clear of the very edge of the road where there will be a buildup of debris.
One thing that I often forget to do is to eat and drink enough while riding in the rain. Fortunately, at the Farm to Fork Fondo events you will be remined as stop at all the aid stations on the way!
After riding, the first thing you should do is change your clothes immediately. Use a towel and wet wipes until you can get yourself home to have a shower. Then, make sure to clean and dry your bike chain. Later on, you can clean your bike fully so it’s ready for your next ride!