Riding in the Rain

Safety Corner logoLike it or not, all cyclists end up riding in the rain on occasion. A cyclist has four things to think about when riding in the rain: 1) staying warm; 2) staying upright; 3) staying visible; and 4) staying mobile.

Staying Warm: This is not the same as staying dry, which is nearly impossible considering the rain from above, your tires slinging up water from below, your fellow cyclists’ tires slinging water from the front and rear, and your sweat from inside. Avoid cotton clothing (including blends) from the skin out. Cotton sucks out your body heat when wet. Carry rain gear—at least a light jacket—regardless of the weather forecast. Eat and drink plenty (even if you don’t feel hungry or thirsty) so your body remains capable of generating heat. If you get cold, don’t gut it out. Find shelter, even if you have to knock on a door, or call a friend, a taxi, or AAA. If you ride in the rain often (e.g., if you commute), consider adding full fenders to your bike—you and your riding companions will stay much drier.

Staying Upright: Rain lessens your traction with the road—especially when it first starts (as oils are raised on the pavement surface, but not yet washed away). Painted and metal surfaces are particularly slick when wet—cross these surfaces with due caution, without braking, accelerating, or turning if possible. Don’t even think about riding over metal grate bridges when wet—walk your bike. Wet rims also greatly reduce the effectiveness of your brakes, so take this into account. Dry your rims by applying your brakes lightly just before you need to use them.

Staying Visible: High-visibility clothing is particularly important in the rain, when motorists’ visibility is inhibited by wet windshields, darkness, and the rain itself. Fortunately, it is easy to find rain gear in hi-vis colors.

Staying Mobile: Carry two spare tubes if there’s a chance of rain. Unfortunately, flats are more likely in the rain because glass and tire-flattening pot holes are harder to see. Also, there’s no chance of getting a patch to stick to a wet tube.

Remember—safety is about choices. What choices will you make?


Please send corrections, additions, comments and praise to

© 1997- CRW, Inc. All rights reserved. Revised: