If you are addicted to your regular ride you are going to get caught in the rain from time to time, which is not always a bad thing, depending on the conditions. Having the right cycling garments can certainly make a ride in the rain a lot more enjoyable.
While cycling in the rain poses some extra hazards, poor visibility (for you and for drivers), slippery roads and crossings, potholes and debris hidden under puddles, there are some extras you need to take into account when you get off the bike as well.
Oh yes, that sudden downpour. Your bike is a mess, your kit is now multi shades of black and grey, and your gear is at a higher risk of breaks and malfunctions.
Here are five important things you need to do after riding in the rain to help keep you smiling come rain, hail or shine.
It might seem like a no brainer to say this one, since a wet chamois is hardly anyone’s best friend, however, it’s important not to delay a change. It’s not just rain that’s soaking your clothes, it’s sweat as well. All that wetness can cause serious saddle sores. Even if you are washing your bike (see #2), do it in dry clothes. A quick change will make all the difference to your mood as well as to your posterior health. Keep a towel and spare set of clothes on hand in your garage (or office) so you don’t drip grime through the house to get changed.
If you tend to get wet when you wash your bike, try changing into board shorts, they’ll repel the water a little better than casual clothes and are easy to slip on and off when you get inside to shower.
It’s not just water clinging to your bike after a wet ride, it’s grit, dirt, oil and pollution, and that’s just for road cycling, off-road bikes will take an even bigger hit of mud and muck. If allowed to dry as is it’s going to take some considerable elbow grease to remove.
If you are not up for a proper wash as soon as you get home, hose your bike down straight away to rinse off all those nasty agents that can clog your gears and cassette and scratch your frame. Make sure you set aside time for a follow up soapy clean of the chain, tires and derailleur as soon as possible. If you are looking at a rainy week and you know you’ll be out in the muck again, be sure to hose off every time and do a full clean when you get a break in the weather.
A standard garden hose works best. While a high-pressure hose might seem like a faster way to clean, it’s actually damaging to your bike. As well as realigning the finer elements of your mechanics, a high-pressure hose can force dirt and particles into joints and crevices that can cause damage when you ride.
While you are out with the hose it’s a good opportunity to rinse your shoes and helmet off as well. You’ll need to get onto this quickly since your shoes are going to take a long time to dry. Stuff them with newspaper or paper towel and change the paper for new as soon as it becomes damp. Ideally hang your shoes over a heater or hot air vent to accelerate the drying process.
For your helmet be careful that your straps and pads are clean and put them in a place that will allow them to dry well.
Water and metal are a bad combination and while most of your bike will be made of lighter materials, your chain is as metal as they come. After a wet ride, spinning through water and muck and a hose down, your chain is probably feeling in need of a good oil treatment. Use a light brush to free your chain from any remaining mess and dry it thoroughly to make sure it doesn’t rust. Lubricate your chain before your next ride as the protective fluid that once was there will have been washed away.
The easiest way to do this is take it into the shower with you. Your knicks are going to be in especially bad shape from all that road grit and mess that gets kicked up in the spray, and your back will be dirty as well if you prefer to ride without rain guards. Rinse the grit off and apply any pre treatments to black patches before you throw it in the washing machine (if you need to, you might find for your outerwear that a wash in the shower is enough).
Once a stain is washed and dried into a garment it very rarely comes out again so you need to do the work now while it’s fresh and wet.
Make sure you are using the right wash cycles and temperatures for your riding clothes. Cold wash is best and line-dry to help protect any seam tape used for weatherproofing, as well as for extending your garments wear time.
Being able to go from wet to dry with everything in perfect working order for the next ride? That’s freedom!