1. Prepare for the post.
Always check the forecast. While it is fun to occasionally get caught in the rain with no choice but to ride, it is much more fun getting caught knowing that you have a dry towel and clothes, a bite to eat, and some wet-weather gear waiting for you back at your starting point.
2. Light it up.
We live in a region that is prone to storms that can significantly darken the sky. Rain is a great reason to always ride with lights and/or to adorn your helmet, frame, saddlebag, or other part or accessory with a few small bits of reflective tape or fabric.
3. Pare the pace.
Even if the rain is only a quick shower on a day that dries it up within minutes, any rain should mean a reduction in pace. Indeed, it is usually within the first few minutes of rain that the road is likely to be slickest. The surface has not yet been rinsed of the residual oil, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, and other fouling agents that drip from all the vehicles on our roads (including our bicycles, by the way). The ride can always resume a faster pace if things improve. This is especially relevant on the many metal surfaces that cap our many drawbridges in the area. If it is raining, we STRONGLY DISCOURAGE riding across these bridges. Even if you have to dismount and walk across the bridge, it is worth the extra one or two minutes.
4. Drop the draft.
Riding directly behind a “rooster-tail” of water flying off a rear wheel is a sure way to reduce already-compromised visibility, so increase the distance to the rider in front of you. Another option is to slightly stagger the group, since it is legal to ride two abreast in South Carolina. Do not let this result in gaps, however, that grow so big that slower riders fall off. Stick together and stay safe. Even if the group splits into two or more smaller groups, that is preferable to stranding a rider off the back.
The four preceding points are a good start to riding safely in the rain. This is not intended as a guide for commuting on a daily basis in wet conditions. There are many other resources with extensive lists regarding handling, gear, and other items for consideration if that is the goal. Please let us know if you would like more information about such items, and we would be happy to assist.
See you next Tuesday or Thursday…rain or shine!