With weather alternating between sunny, crisp autumn days and overcast, chilly ones, it is just a reminder that fair weather riding will soon end. However, that doesn’t mean it's time to flip your bike onto the garage hooks for the season. Your only choice isn't hibernation.
Check our blog on setting up an indoor trainer as an option. But don't overlook outdoor riding! Riding can be done in all kinds of weather if you follow simple safety tips and appropriately dress for wetter, colder conditions. This blog entry focuses on safety. A future blog addresses riding wardrobe.
Safety is a consideration before, during and after a ride. Before cycling in wet weather or slippery conditions, do the following:
- Ensure your lights work: front (white) and rear (red). A red reflector is the minimum legal substitute for a rear red light. Battery lights are common; rechargeable ones, while pricier, may be more reliable.
- Increase traction between your tires and the road. Lower air pressure 5-10 pounds psi to do so. Check the normal pressure printed on the tire sidewall and adjust accordingly.
- Check that brakes work, replacing any worn pads.
- Invest in fenders unless, like me, the mud stripe up your back is a sign of pride.
During your ride, bear in mind the following:
- Ride more slowly than usual.
- Allow for longer braking distance. Rubber brake pads don’t grip wet rims that well.
- Avoid smooth metal surfaces - railroad tracks, steel plates and sewer covers. If you can’t avoid them, slow down before rolling over them, then coast across. Braking or accelerating on slick metal can cause tires to slip.
- Cross railroad tracks at right angles, rain or shine.
- Allow a bigger interval between you and others for braking.
- Turn on your red rear flasher for greater visibility.
- Watch for deep ruts and pot holes filled with water. They may NOT be a simple wet spot.
- If weather is truly threatening, be prudent and seek shelter.
After cycling, general maintenance will make your next outing more enjoyable.
- Wipe down your bike to remove grit/mud that can accumulate on rims and chain.
- Dry your bike chain and apply a thin film of lubricant to avoid rusting.
- Wipe down your saddle and, if leather, apply a leather dressing to minimize cracking when drying
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