8 tips for biking in the rain

Rain can be an excuse not to ride your bike — but it doesn't have to be. We asked avid P.E.I. cyclists for their best advice for riding in the rain.

'There's no such thing as inappropriate weather, there's just inappropriate dress'

To bike in the rain, you want a jacket that is waterproof but not too bulky. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Rain can be an excuse not to ride your bike — but it doesn't have to be.

We asked avid P.E.I. cyclists for their best advice for riding in the rain.

1. Dress properly

This might be the most obvious tip, but it's also the most important — wear clothes that are windproof and waterproof.

"There's no such thing as inappropriate weather, there's just inappropriate dress," said Mike Connolly, the executive director of Cycling P.E.I.

A visible raincoat is always a good idea when cycling in the rain. (Popartic/Shutterstock)

"You need to layer, you need to stay as dry as you can. Having said that, you still need to wear clothing that's not going to interfere with the operation of your bike, so loose, baggy ponchos don't usually work too well."

Brett Doyle, owner of Outer Limits Sports, added that shoe covers are popular with all-weather cyclists, meaning they won't have wet feet when they arrive at their destination.

"Just making sure that you have the right equipment, the right gear and you're prepared for the weather. It's definitely possible to bike even year-round really, but definitely in wet conditions," Doyle said.

2. Get fenders

Fenders are a simple thing to add to your bike to make it more comfortable to ride in the rain.

"You don't want to arrive to work with a skunk stripe up your back," said Doyle. "So the first thing would be fenders for sure, so that's going to prevent the spray coming up from your back."

Fenders protect you from getting soaked by ground water. (Shutterstock)

A fender on the back of your bike will help with that spray, and Graham Miner, director of P.E.I.'s Highway Safety Division, pointed out that a front fender will also prevent rain from spraying into your face.

3. Stay visible

If you've driven in the rain, you know your visibility is reduced. That makes it all the more important for cyclists to be visible.

"In a hard downpour, you're going to be less visible," said Connolly.

He said it's important for cyclists to wear bright clothing and turn on their bike lights when it's raining to make sure cars can see them.

4. Waterproof your stuff

You're not the only one who needs a raincoat — you also want to make sure that anything you're carrying with you is safe from water. 

Waterproof panier bags allow you to keep your stuff dry. (Maksimilian/Shutterstock)

Doyle recommends getting waterproof panier bags to ensure the contents of your bag aren't soaked.

"It keeps everything nice and dry when you get to your destination," he said.

5. Get goggles

Miner said good eyewear is important for riding in the rain.

His daughter gave him a pair of goggles for chopping onions as "kind of a smile at one Christmas as a stocking stuffer," he said, and they work perfectly as cycling goggles.

Graham Miner wears these goggles, originally intended for chopping onions, to protect his eyes in the rain. (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

The goggles keep water out of his eyes as well as any road debris.

6. Gain traction

Andre Boudreau, who competed in road cycling in the 2017 Canada Games, recommends letting a bit of air out of your tires when riding in the rain.

"You get a little bit more traction," he explained.

7. Stay off busy roads

Miner recommends staying away from busy roads, especially in the rain. He said on busier roads, there is more of a risk of getting splashed by a passing car.

It's a good idea to stay off busy roads, says Graham Miner, where you are more likely to get splashed by a passing vehicle. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"You're being splashed by motorists, and when you're getting splashed … those are rocks flying out of puddles or debris coming off the road," he said.

8. Be careful

Patrick Cheverie, warranty manager at Sporting Intentions and an avid cyclist, said it's important to factor the weather into how you ride.

"Brake early, be cautious, take your time, don't go out flying like you would on a dry day," he said.

Boudreau agreed it's important to go "a little bit slower than you think you need to go."

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About the Author

Jesara Sinclair

Journalist

Jesara Sinclair is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. Prior to Charlottetown, she worked with CBC in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. E-mail: jesara.sinclair@cbc.ca.