How to Bike in the Rain

Renée Moore Tweet Us @bikearlington@bikearlington July 15, 2019

Renée Moore is the Program Manager for BikeArlington. You can often find her dress billowing in the wind and leading bike expeditions to Arlington’s most awesome destinations.

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Rainstorms don't have to keep you from riding if you follow these simple steps.

Summer is here and that means unexpected rain and thunderstorms just as you are about to commute to or from work. This can definitely put a damper on your ride, but it doesn’t have to if you follow these simple tips.

  • Accept that you will be wet—This is a simple secret to biking in the rain, but it is the hardest part for many to accept. You can spend a lot of time trying to not get wet but the reality is, some part of you will be wet no matter how you prep. Accepting that as an outcome makes the ride so much easier. But with that being said…
  • Be prepared—Consider buying a rain hood to keep in your backpack or pannier for rainy days. Or you may want to keep rain pants and a jacket with you at work just in case a shower pops up. You may also want to keep waterproof shoe covers to keep your toes dry as well.
  • Wear clear lenses—Keeping a pair of clear lens sunglasses will help to keep the rain out of your eyes.
  • Beware of puddles and rainbows—What appears to be a harmless puddle, could actually be a HUGE pothole full of water and could cause you to fall and hurt yourself. Also, while rainbows on the ground may be pretty, they can also be quite slippery. Those rainbows are caused by a mixture of oil from cars and rainwater creating a possibly dangerous situation.
  • Brake sooner—In wet weather, you want to make sure you plan to brake a bit sooner than you normally would. This will give you time to stop and not roll into an intersection or possibly hit a puddle or worse.
  • Lights, lots of ’em—Heavy rain can reduce drivers’ vision, so make sure you have some lights on both the front and the back of your bike. Consider putting your lights on flashing mode and adding them to your helmet and backpack for optimal visibility.
  • Fenders—Consider adding fenders to your bike to make the ride more comfortable and keep the rain from getting you completely soaked. Once you ride in the rain with fenders, you’ll wonder how you rode without them.
  • Use plastic bags—If you carry your work clothes in a pannier, consider putting them in a large storage bag to keep them dry. Plastic bags are also great for tying over your bike seat to keep it dry. Or you can pick up one of our BikeArlington waterproof bike seat covers. Email me if you’d like to pick up one for yourself.
  • Grease the chain—After you ride, you no doubt will want to dry off. But be sure to dry off your bike as well. After drying the chain, use some lube to prolong the life of your chain and keep it from rusting.
  • Get a second bike for the rain—Let’s face it, if you have a fancy race bike, do you really want to add fenders to it, panniers and/or ride it in rain and mud? Of course, you don’t! This is your excuse, I mean chance, to convince yourself that you NEED that second (or third, fourth or fifth. No judgment here.) bike. This is the bike you can ride during any inclement weather and not worry about getting it messed up.
  • Skip the rain and take another form of transportation—Let’s be real, you may not feel like being wet while biking during your commute. And there is no shame in that. Since Metro now allows riders to bring bikes on board all day, you can take your bike on the train, or put it on the bus bike rack rather than ride in the rain.

Riding in the rain can be fun and exhilarating when you have the right equipment. Being prepared for rainy weather will make you feel so much more confident if a shower arises.

If you want to feel more confident biking in the rain (or sun) sign up to get updates about our Confident City Cycling Classes.



Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/

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