30 things learned in 30 years of cycling – No. 10

How to handle rain

Here in Ireland we love to talk about the weather. It’s a national pastime. Cyclists are no different and will always have an eye on the weather forecast before going for spin.

Ireland has some of the most beautiful scenic roads in the World for cycling. Foreign cyclists who come here always remark how green and alive everything looks. Well, that’s because of the rain.

Cyclists are a hardy bunch. Dr. Bob Arnot in an article for mens journal recently deduced that professional cycling is the World’s toughest Sport. Each and every cyclist, no matter what level they are at knows how to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, to endure a bit of pain and to suffer. All with the realisation that the more effort put in, the greater the reward when it’s over.

A little water falling from the sky doesn’t really bother a cyclist.

When the sun is out so too are the cyclists. But they are also out when it rains . Without cycling in the rain those dry warm sunny days could not be appreciated. Here in Ireland it’s a treat to get out on the bike on a sunny day. In other parts of the World cyclists have to head out at 4am in order to avoid the soaring temperatures of the mid day sun and actually enjoy the prospect of riding in the rain when they come to Ireland.

For racing cyclists if you want to be able to race in the rain you must train in the rain.

The vast majority of Irish rain is ‘soft rain’. Rain that will make you wet but is not unsafe to ride in. Because of the rain our roads are well washed of oil and slippery residue so tyre grip is not lessened dramatically. In places like Spain and Italy where they can go months at a time without rain their roads become treacherous even after a light shower.

The rain also washes the air. There are few things as exhilarating as cycling down a deserted Irish country back road after a shower of rain. The smells of the roadside fauna are intensified and you can almost taste the extra oxygen in the air.

The key to cycling in the rain is to be prepared for it. Have a good quality breathable rain jacket. Wear a peaked cap under your helmet. Wear overshoes to keep your feet dry and don’t hang around in wet gear after your cycle.

The only thing that cycling in the rain can melt is inches off your waistline !




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