The News-Press, August 15, 2019
by Ken Gooderham
When it’s raining all the time or any time of day, cyclists have two choices: Stay home or get wet.
Nobody wants to do the former, so you should be prepared for the latter.
With the weather patterns lately, cyclists don’t even need to intend to get caught in the rain. Sometime, rain just happens… as in when a partly cloudy morning at 8:30 a.m. suddenly turns stormy by 9 a.m. So you either take shelter (if there’s any to be had) or dance with the raindrops.
When it comes to pedaling in the precipitation, you have two approaches: What to do before it rains, and what to do afterwards.
Beforehand, about all you can do (besides checking your weather app for forecasts and radar) is do your usual pre-ride bike prep (so everything is at least ready to ride dry), throw in a rain jacket (find something that packs into itself for ease of handling), and consider your route (if that’s an option) for places where you could get out of the weather if necessary.
What should you do if you get caught in the rain?
- Get out of it if possible, particularly if it’s heavy and there’s lightning involved (particularly if there’s lightning involved). Look for a structure where you can wait it out.
- If it’s bearable to ride, work on being visible (especially if you’re in traffic) and avoid flooded areas (since you don’t know what’s under that water). Similarly, avoid painted areas on the roadway, since rain makes them as slippery as ice.
- If you have a rain jacket, put it on – including the hood (keeps the water from running down your back). If you don’t have a jacket, improvise (think trash bags) or get soaked. Why avoid the saturation? Because wet fabric can get uncomfortable fast.
When the rain stops and you get back home, there’s a few things you should do NOW to make your bike and your next ride better:
- Wipe down and dry off your bike – thoroughly. If you really got soaked, turn your bike upside down to let the frame drain… some people even suggest a leaf blower to remove moisture (assuming you have one and can stand the noise).
- Clean and lube everything you can. Your chain is crucial, so if you can give it a thorough degreasing and lube, great. If not, at least wipe it down to get dry and put something on to re-lubricate it. Also, wipe your frame, wheels, brakes and pedals, and lubricate all the moving parts on them as well. Not only will the process help drive the excess moisture out, but your ride will be ready for the next outing as well.
- Now dry yourself out… clothes, shoes, gloves and helmet. If they’re grimy as well as wet, throw them in the laundry. If it’s just moisture without mud, dry them out and see if they can be used again without washing (at least the stuff that doesn’t directly touch your skin).
If you find yourself getting caught in the rain a lot (hopefully a sign you’re riding a lot), investing in some rain gear might be prudent (or at least more comfortable). Same thing for the tools and chemicals to take care of your bike… particularly smart if you have some serious money invested in your ride. (If it’s really serious money, maybe consider getting a rain bike and leave the good wheels at home.)
You live in the semi-tropics, so cycling in the summer inevitably means getting wet. Be prepared, and you won’t be stuck at home watching your bike slowly rust away. And remember, the rainy season will be over soon.
Ready to ride or run?
Run? Still slow in organized races, with the Omega Youth Race in Cape Coral this weekend (3dracinginc.com) and the Rampage 5K on Aug. 24 at North Collier Regional Park (runelitevents.com). Once we get to September, your race schedule starts ramping up again – kicking off with a Labor Day 5K in Naples (gcrunner.org).
Ride? You can always count on Critical Mass for rides, even in the midst of summer. You’ll find the NE Lee ride this Friday and the Cape Coral ride Aug. 30. Planning ahead? Plan on the Anniversary Beach Party Aug. 31. Food, fun, costume and bike contest… oh, and a ride as well. Pre-ride fun starts at 5 p.m., ride kicks off at 8 p.m., all from Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers. All are night rides, so lights required and helmets recommended (meetup.com).
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Monday, Sept. 2: Venice Sprint Tri, Sharky’s on the Pier, Venice (trifind.com)
- Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 7-8: Galloway Captiva Tri. Sprint on Saturday, kids’ events Sunday (https://www.gearedup.biz/captiva-triathlon)
- Saturday, Sept. 21: The Original Siesta Key Tri, sprint (runsignup.com)
- Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at email@example.com, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.