Training And Racing In The Rain
The weather has been pretty grim, to say the least, this week in the UK and in some places across Europe (UGH), but rain or shine we still have to train and race. Whilst 20 minutes into my ride on Wednesday this week, during heavy rainfall, I was thinking how much road cyclists typically hate the rain. We’ve all been there, thinking: ’why on earth am I out in this?’, but you don’t have to avoid the rain, there’s lots of great ways to help you smash that training session or race even in the pouring rain!
First and foremost, don’t feel guilty if you do swap your session for the turbo trainer, sometimes the weather can be a little too dangerous to ride in, for example no one expects you to go out and do your efforts in a storm! Sometimes it is just necessary to hop on the turbo trainer instead: so don’t feel guilty for this. Making sure you get your training done in a safe way has to always come first.
When you do venture out into the elements make sure you wrap up warm. Water resistant clothing like jackets and bib tights / shorts are highly recommended, accessories such as ear warmers and/or a buff for your neck will also help to keep heat in on those cold rainy days. Buffs can also double up as a face covering if you need to pop into a shop to buy extra ride food! Regarding waterproof clothing I would recommend having a waterproof cape, overshoes and gloves. I’ve found that as long as your feet and hands are warm (as well as dry) you should be able to endure even the coldest and wettest of rides/races. For racing a see-through rain cape can be a really great way to keep dry and yet still have your numbers visible.
Now a huge mistake lots of people make time and time again - remember to drink! Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take on fluids. It’s very important to keep drinking around a bottle (500ml) every hour or so. This will ensure hydration and optimal performance. Eating is also very important even when it’s raining: making sure you eat around 30-60g of carbohydrates an hour - even if it’s moral food and not specific cycling nutrition as it were. The last thing you want during a wet ride/race is to find that you’ve run out of fuel and therefore come to a literal holt, fueling and hydrating will both prevent this from happening!
During a rainy spell you will also want to slightly tweak how you’d normally have your bike set up. When riding in the rain, regardless as to whether it’s for racing or training, you should reassess your chosen tyre pressures. For example: on normal 700cc 25mm road tyres you would want to inflate your tyres to around 70-80psi (rider weight dependant), the reasoning behind is that it will increase the surface area of the tyre in contact with the road, therefore allowing for more grip. I’d also highly suggest being more cautious than usual when cornering due to the slippy road surfaces. Nobody wants to come skidding off their bike, so rethink and readjust when required.
Ensure to keep in mind that your brakes will also need to be in an adequate working order before you venture out into the rain. Making sure your rim and disc brakes have enough brake pad left. If you are unsure as to how to check this there are lots of great You Tube tutorials which show you how to check both rim and disc brake pads wear. Please also be mindful that on long rides / races you’ll need to account for a bit of wear during your ride as the rain will throw up more grit and debris from the road, therefore wearing down your pads at a faster rate than normal. Please also allow for a greater stopping distance, disc brake users can bask in their smugness regarding this issue as it’s unfortunately more relevant for rim brake users, nonetheless everyone should brake a little earlier than you would normally no matter what type of brakes you have in wet conditions. At the end of the day keeping safe is paramount while riding in adverse conditions.
Hopefully with all the tips and tricks above you'll be able to get a little more out of your training and racing in the rain. Being safe is has to always be at the forefront of your mind before you head out on your bike. Equally, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself! Riding bikes, no matter what the weather, is always awesome!
Until next time,