Everyone knows you need at least three road bikes – two if you’re absolutely determined to make a point about minimalism. Bike Number One is reserved for good weather and events, and the Rain Bike for inclement weather. Just like our guns need to be pampered and rubbed down whenever we’re off the bike, any time Bike Number One isn’t being used as a weapon of Mass V-struction, it should be pampered and polished lovingly. Best to leave the dirty work of training in Rule #9 conditions to a dedicated, loyal workhorse with less expensive componentry. It isn’t so much that a bike can’t handle getting wet – don’t be ridiculous – but rather that everything wears more quickly; road grit gets into the drivetrain, water seeps into bearings, and brake pads and rims wear like butter on a grindstone.
I find myself in the enviable position of having my repaired Cervélo R3 holding rank as my current Rain Bike. Having such a steed at hand any time the rain falls makes riding in bad weather all the more enjoyable. I did make some modifications to it, however. For starters, the cassette and chain are both Veloce instead of Record; not only are the less expensive, they appear to be more durable as well. As for hoops, a pair of Mavic Open Pros can’t be beat for durability and reliability.
But perhaps the most important modification centers around making the bike elegantly hi-vis. In addition to Lezyne flashers front and back for visibility, I have also applied strips of black 3M reflective tape to the chain stays, seat post, crank arms, down tube, and head tube. When a light isn’t shining on the tape, you can’t even see its there, but under the shine of a car’s headlights, the bike springs to life.
Riding in bad weather is all about durability and safety; the bike should be outfitted with reliable parts, and the rider should take care to be safe and visible. So whenver you’re riding in Rule #9 conditions, remember these safety tips:
- Assume the cars around you do not appreciate the dangers of being on a bicycle in the rain. If you find yourself being followed by a car at a point where it is unsafe for them to pass, either be assertive and take the lane to prevent them making a move that could put you at risk, or pull off the road completely to allow them to pass.
- Ride with confidence and make predictable movements. Always signal clearly when making turns. Make eye contact with drivers at intersections and clearly indicate your intended direction of travel.
- Always assume cars around you do not see you. Use flashers in any low light situations and give plenty of room to allow for increased stopping distance.
- When riding at night, the use of both a helmet mounted light and handlebar mounted light helps drivers realize you are a bicycle and not a motorcycle. I’m not sure why this is, but experience has proven this to be the case.
- Avoid riding through puddles, especially ones you can’t see the bottom of; potholes can be bigger than they appear or hidden completely by standing water.
Riding in bad weather means you’re a badass, but it also means cars are less likely to see you or expect to find you out on the road. In accordance with two of the V Tenets of the Velominati, we are to Look Fantastic at All Times, and Return Home Safely To Ride Again Tomorrow. My Reflective Bike of Authority plays nicely in both respects.
Vive la Vie Velominatus.