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Rain Riding


Tips for Riding Wet Roads - Even if you're on tires designed for wet conditions, you should take some additional safety measures. Here are 6 that will help:

1. Reduce Inflation Pressure

For rainy races, pro mechanics lower tire pressure. This increases the contact patch and traction. Proper pressure is related to rider weight. I recommend dropping about 15% from your dry-road pressure. I normally run about 110 psi in my 700x23 tires, so I go down to 95 psi when it's wet.

2. Avoid Brand-New Tires

I feel safer on tires with some miles on them. New tires may have flashing (thin strips of rubber left from the molding process) that could interfere with traction. They may also have a waxy, slippery feel. Wear from riding remedies these things.

Tip: If you must ride new tires on a rainy day, gently scuff them with a piece of medium sandpaper. This simulates what a few dozen miles would do naturally.

3. Be extra cautious when rain starts.

First -- especially if it hasn't rained in a few days -- the initial wetness activates grit and oil to make the road even slipperier than you might expect. As rain continues, this stuff is washed away and traction usually improves.

Second, normally benign things on the road become dangerously slippery when wet. Included are painted lines and other markings, tar patches and anything metal. Avoid riding over them on rainy days.

4. Stay Balanced

As long as your wheels are rolling and your weight is normally distributed on the bike, you'll be fine. But if you were to stand and accelerate hard or make an abrupt change of course in a turn, a wet tire could slip out from under you.

5. Brake Early and Easily

When rims and brake pads are wet, braking will have minimal effect until there have been enough wheel revolutions to sufficiently dry their interface. So if you squeeze the levers harder and harder because you're not slowing fast enough, the brakes could suddenly grab and cause a dangerous skid. Avoid the risk by braking early, pumping the levers, and being ready to lighten your grip.

6. Be Prepared For Punctures

Rain washes debris onto roads, making flat tires more frequent. Rain also makes it impossible for patches to stick. On wet days it's smart to carry an extra spare tube or 2.