Bike Commuting: Staying Safe and Dry
Although California’s Central Coast boasts some of the best weather on earth, we certainly get enough rain and drizzle to challenge bicycle commuters.
Whereas many intrepid cyclists aren’t put off by inclement weather, others find it very daunting.
If you’re one of these fair weather riders who wants to commute by bike even in “iffy” weather, here are some tips to help keep you dry, warm, and safe.
Dress for the weather
A breathable, waterproof, hi-vis jacket or shell with reflective elements is clearly a must; rain pants are a smart call, too.
If the pants are loose, use a hi-vis and/or reflective leg band around the bottom of your right leg to prevent the chain from catching on the fabric. Also be sure to cover your hands and feet with waterproof, insulated gloves and shoe covers/booties.
Keep your core dry and warm by dressing in light moisture-wicking layers under your outerwear. Get our detailed tips on proper layering here.
A neck gaiter will protect your neck from rain and wind, and you can pull it up over your chin for added comfort.
Finally, a brimmed cap worn under your helmet will help keep your vision clear and can be worn along with clear glasses for optimum protection. Keep in mind that glasses without a brimmed cap may actually impair your vision as droplets from the rain will gather on the lenses.
Dress your bike for the weather
Day and night, be sure your bike is outfitted with a set of day-time running lights (DRLs) and don’t forget to keep them charged.
Fenders will minimize water and mud spray; ask us which style will work best for your commute. If possible, run wider tires during the rainy season as they will give you additional traction on slick pavement.
Waterproof storage is a must for carrying a change of clothes, an extra pair of gloves and socks, and other items such as work necessities and groceries. Choose from panniers, trunks, backpacks, and bags — whatever best suits your style and needs. Learn more about carrying your stuff here.
Lastly, dress up your bike seat in a plastic bag if you have to park it outside where it will get wet. You’ll be happy to have a nice, dry seat for the commute home!
Ensure your bike is in good condition
Proper bicycle maintenance is important no matter what the weather, but it’s especially crucial if you’re going to be riding in wet conditions.
Get your bike tuned up regularly, and check it over carefully before each ride. After a wet commute, don’t forget to dry your bike off completely, and lube the chain well.
Learn more about how to care for your bike here.
Be aware of Hazards
Crummy weather can present hazards that fair-weather riders may not be used to.
Railroad tracks and other surfaces can become dangerously slippery, oil patches on the road can be slick, and puddles may obscure potholes or debris. Give yourself extra time to brake and take turns carefully.
Finally, it’s a good idea to brush up on the rules of the road and practice your bike handling skills so that you’re at your best out there on your commute no matter what the weather conditions.
We hope these tips will help you feel confident and inspired as you build more biking into your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!