Nobody really likes starting a ride in the rain, but sometimes that’s what you’re dealt. Before kids and owning a bike shop the schedule was a little more open. This allowed me to stare at the rain for a while and hope it would let up so I could get on the bike without getting soaked to the bone. Now it’s now or never so we put on the rain gear and go. I’ve had teammates ask me, “how come your race well in the rain?” I figure we race in it I might as well train in it. I’ve also always been an opportunist rider. At the first drop of rain most of the riders have already lost motivation. That means my odds just went up! When I feel the first drop of rain I attack!
Gear is everything when training or racing in the cold rain. I remember one of my first cold rainy races. It was Tour of California 2009 when we had 3 days of high 30’s low 40’s and rain. After making a fist to ringing my gloves out for the 10th time Chris Horner came up to me and made a fist and no water came out of his gloves. My jaw dropped! He smiled and said he remembers being in my situation. Before the next race he dropped $500 on good rain gear. I ditched the cleaning gloves and bought some of the good stuff.
When preparing to train in the rain essentials are: a good rain jacket, rain gloves, booties, cycling cap, clear lenses, rear fender, and a plastic bag for your cell phone. When racing you can get away with very little but you better be in the breakaway or you’ll freeze. All riders in the peloton have a ‘rain bag’ in the teams follow car behind the race. Inside there they have all their rain gear and spare shoes incase something goes wrong. After training or racing it’s hard, but it’s time to clean up and make sure you’re ready for the next day. That means hosing your bike off and re-lubbing the chain. The most important thing is getting those shoes dry so you’re not putting on wet shoes the next day. On the road we stuff our shoes with newspaper to pull the moisture out. At home I have little bean bags that dry them out.
Some other tips I have for training and racing in the rain are: Run lower pressure in the tires. I run as low as 90 psi when I race in the rain. Carry more fix a flat stuff out training. When it rains it washes all the crap from the side of the road into the road. This cases more flats then usual. Keep moving! It’s easy for me here in Holland MI but keep the ride flat were you’re putting out a steady effort. If you climb you’ll stay nice and warm but once you have to go downhill you’ll freeze. Wear something bright or have a rear blinky light so you’re visible. Railroad tracks and wood bridges are extra slippery so slow down and be careful. Allow more time for stopping. Unless you have disc brakes on your road bike rim brakes don’t stop very well when wet. Last try and smile because you’re on a bike!