The rains are here. Bangalore turns into a special place in the monsoon season. One day it is raining, the next day is sunny. The weather fluctuates on an hourly basis. If you’re a fair-weather cyclist, like some of us, you definitely don’t look forward to riding out! The weather may seem off-putting, but don’t miss out on some great riding during the rains. The reason most people fear riding in the dark or rainy conditions is that they are simply not prepared for it. So, here are some tips to make sure you are in the saddle during these few wet months.
PRE RIDE PREPARATION
Clothing makes all the difference to your riding experience if you’re out in the rain. It can get nasty pretty quickly if all you have is your usual ‘summer’ jersey. A raincoat which fits in your pocket is all you may need- especially for us Bangaloreans.
Clothing & Accessories
- Quick drying jersey (preferably bright colors)
- Rain jacket (preferably bright colors). One that fits in your jersey’s pocket is ideal. Also, a tight-fitting one will catch less of the wind, which makes you faster.
- Eye protection to prevent water and dust from entering the eyes. Look for eyewear with clear lenses.
- Headlight and taillight for improved visibility
- Overshoes – beneficial, but not necessary in the Indian monsoon.
Other things to make note of,
- Phone and cash in plastic cover. I recommend a ziplock bag.
- Use a wet lube. This waxy lubricant stays on your chain for longer during wet conditions. The dry ones tend to wash away with the rain.
- Lower your tire pressure. A reduced tire pressure will give you more grip on wet surfaces, as more of the tyre is touching the road. A good rule of thumb is to take out 10psi if you’re riding in the rain. 85-90 psi is a good place for a road bike.
On the ride
Riding in the rain can be slightly tricky. Remember that there is lesser grip in the wet, which affects your braking and cornering. Braking distances are higher. So, break early and well in time. Be patient and slower than usual around corners. While cornering lean your body rather than bike, and keep the bike upright and DO NOT brake while cornering on wet road. Put your weight on the outside foot for extra stability. Maintain a safe distance between the rider in front of you. Use hand signals to point out potholes, speed breakers, and turns.
POST RIDE MAINTAINANCE
The combination of road grit and water that splashes all over your bike happens to be a very good combination for eroding your bike’s components. A bike wash after a ride in the rain is a must. Your components will last longer and your wallet will be left undisturbed.
A good service for your bike before the monsoon season is a good idea, to ensure that you get through the season without issues.
Tires, brake pads are parts you should look out for, as these tend to wear out quickly in the monsoon.
Parts of the bike to specifically clean
- Frame – Wash the frame after every ride. The frame catches a lot of slush during a ride in the rain. Hence, it is very important that you wash the frame thoroughly after the ride.
- Drivetrain – The drivetrain includes the chain and the gears. During a ride in the rain, a lot of sand particles gets stuck on the chain and gears. This accelerates wear and tear off the drivetrain. Use a cycling specific degreaser to clean the drivetrain. Do not forget to lubricate the chain once again. Remember to lubricate only the chain links and nothing else on the drivetrain.
- Brake pads and rims – Many of us do not realize the damage that riding in the rain does to both the rims and brakes. Sand particles get stuck to the brake pads and accelerate wear of both the brake pads and rim, thereby compromising braking. Hence, it is very important that the sand particles are removed from the brake pads after a ride. The same applies to the rims, clean the rims with water. Do not use soapy water as it can leave a layer of soap on the braking surface. You can also use alcohol swabs to clean the rims and the brake pads.
These were simple, quick tips to ensure you ride your bike thru this monsoon. Like I mentioned earlier the monsoons are a fantastic time to ride a bike, you just need to take care of a few things to ensure you’re comfortable and safe on the bike. Happy riding!