Like many of us in the Macs Adventure office, you might be feeling inspired by the upcoming Tour de Yorkshire. This is the year you will get out on the bike more often right? You've taken advantage of your company's Cycle to Work scheme and invested in a new bike that you're going to get the most out of. You might even be in the process of planning a cycling holiday or if you're really keen, cycling holidays in the UK. If you are going to be spending more time on the bike whether it be for leisure, on the commute, as part of a fitness program or on a cycling holiday in the UK, you need to be prepared for cycling in the rain.
Cycling in Italy
Of course, we would all love to cycle in warm and dry conditions every time. Imagine...clear blue skies, a pleasant temperature somewhere in the mid-twenties and a slight tailwind to help us on our way whilst keeping us cool when the going gets tough...Unless you live in southern Europe, it doesn't often work like that. There will be a time when it is necessary for you to cycle in the rain. Question is, what can you do to prepare for cycling in the rain?
Kit Up, Gear Up & Stay Warm
When you're cycling in the rain in the UK, especially if you're cycling in Scotland, there are a few things you learn about early on, mostly through experience. You learn a lot about the waterproof properties of human skin and then you learn about wind chill factor. Unless you are prepared, an innocent bit of rain and wind can make a balmy 10°C feel like -10°C. Wind chill factor is the perceived drop in air temperature due to the flow of air over exposed skin. Combine wind speed with the average speed you are travelling, usually around 10 - 15 miles per hour for casual cyclists, and the wind chill factor is exacerbated. So be smart and invest in some good clothing.
1. Waterproof Jackets
A good waterproof jacket is essential. It can be hard to find something that combines being lightweight with being waterproof and decent breathability. On some occasions it doesn't just rain, it pours. To be fully waterproof a jacket needs to have taped seams, this can make all the difference.
Notice the taped seams on this Reverence Waterproof Jacket from Dare2B. Available from Cotswold Outdoor
2. Base Layers
Although we are talking about cycling in the rain, keeping warm is a big part of cycling in the rain. To stay warm you have to go back to base layers. Keeping your core body temperature around 37°C is essential if you are to maintain good energy levels and is generally more comfortable. Base layers perform an essential role in maintaining your temperature by pulling sweat away from your skin whilst forming a layer of warm air around it. Keep an eye out for Merino wool base layers. Thermal tights might be a good option if the temperature is particularly low.
Merino Wool makes for a high quality base layer
3. Gloves and Overshoes
When your body temperature drops the veins and other blood vessels constrict which results in poor blood flow to the extremities. Ensure that you keep your hands and feet warm as this is where most nerves are located which means these parts of the body feel the cold the worst, plus you'll need good use of your hands to work the bike's gears and brakes. For decent waterproof gloves, keep an eye out for those made from water resistant polyester or neoprene. Cycling overshoes are designed to protect your feet from the rain and the spray of the tyres, as the name suggests, overshoes fit neatly over your leaky shoes and are usually made from neoprene. A decent pair will keep your feet warm and dry and free from the misery of wet and cold feet.
Rubber-lined gloves from Sealskinz
Consider a pair of overshoes
Cycling in the rain
A few simple adjustments can make your ride a lot drier and, more importantly, safer. If you are going out on a cycling holiday with Macs Adventure don't hesitate from asking the the agent or company that has organised the bike hire to alter the bike and its attachments.
4. Tyres & Guards
The tyres and the mud guards work in tandem. Good tyre tread will ensure a good level of traction whilst creating a lot of spray. Not only water is coming at you but also grit, mud and worse so decent fitting mud guards are required. Not only will they help in keeping you dry but also in keeping stuff out of your eyes. When it comes to the tyres, dropping the pressure slightly will help with traction. A lower tyre pressure will make you slower but the trade-off between speed and safety is fair.
No mudguards = serious spray
Cycling and technology go together like a chain and a sprocket, and we have done a few blog posts on cycling apps including 6 of the Best Free Apps for Cyclists. However since we published that piece a new app has come to our attention.
5. Epic Ride Weather
Epic Ride Weather helps in planning and preparing for a ride by giving accurate weather forecasts, including temperature (actual and feels-like), precipitation (probability and intensity) and wind speeds (including direction) at all stages of your route. You can see which sections of the route you might want to avoid or stop for lunch at. We really like the Epic Ride Weather apps ability to link with other popular cycling apps such as Strava and MapMyRide and the added functionality of being able to take into account your expected location and timing based on GPS data. Epic Ride Weather is available on the App Store and Google Play.
If you have any queries about Macs Adventure's range of self-guided cycling holidays in the UK or Europe or for tips on bike maintenance and general advice, our team would be happy to help. Call Craig on 0141 465 1403 or +1-866-919-7633 (USA & CANADA).
**This is an updated version of a blog post originally posted in April 2017**