Training in the Rain

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Yesterday I missed my window to ride. I thought it wasn’t supposed to start raining until later in the afternoon, but it rolled in a little early. I suited up and rode over to Bill’s house, only to be met by constant sprinkles. I knew there was a zero percent chance that Bill would go out, so I thought I’d just go ride an hour. But when I left his driveway, it started raining a little harder. I had nothing more than a windvest, thought maybe 5 seconds, and headed home.

I started thinking about it because I was up in Seattle last week with Catherine and realized that she is going to have to get used to riding in the rain or she’s gonna be riding a trainer for the next few months. She has fenders on her Ritchey Breakaway bike now, so she is set in that respect.

I called up a friend, Todd Herriott, who runs Herriott Sports Performance. It’s a bikeshop/training facility, plus he has a cycling team. They had a show and go ride last Saturday and Catherine met them to get acquainted and do a 2 hour ride. I was talking to Todd about riding in the rain and the fender etiquette-he said screw it. He said that you can show up on the rides with fenders, but it isn’t mandatory. I liked his attitude.

When I was racing cyclocross Nationals in Portland, a while ago, I raced the Master’s race on Thursday and was doing the Elite race on Sunday, so had a couple days to train. The course was a mucky mess, 8 inch deep mud, so there was no reason to go over there. So I decided to go out and ride on Saturday morning with my friend, Jim Thiele’s bike club. It was raining pretty constantly. I was mildly surprised to see Jim and his wife Barbara start getting dressed to ride. I said something, asking if they really were going to go out and ride. They said, “Of course, if you don’t ride in the rain in Portland in the winter, you wouldn’t ride at all.” So, I put on all the clothing I had and headed out. When we got to the meeting point, there were 20-30 riders, all standing in the rain, talking, like it was a normal sunny day. Trudi, Catherine and I were the only 3 people on the ride without fenders. I felt a little out of place, knowing I was spraying a roost over all this guys I didn’t know, when they all had fenders on.

Anyway, I wouldn’t call myself a fair weather rider. I ride in just about any conditions. (I’ll race in any condition.) But, I don’t usually get dressed up to start riding when it is raining. I’d rather go ride when it is snowing or even ice on the roads than suit up when it is wet. Staying warm training in the rain is always a challenge. I usually have the luxury to be able to schedule my day around the weather. It rarely rains all day here, so there is usually a window. When I’m somewhere I don’t know the weather so well, like Belgium, I’ll just get dressed and go ride, not knowing whether it is going to be wet all day or not. I don’t like it, but I’ll do it.

nubrellaI don’t really have the proper clothing to ride consistently in the wet. I’d probably have to get one of these, a Nubrella, if I was going to get serious about it.

Racing in the rain is a different story.  Here is a photo of the last corner of Elite Criterium Nationals from 2007.

Racing in the rain is a different story. Here is a photo of the last corner of Elite Criterium Nationals from 2007.

9 thoughts on “Training in the Rain

  1. Doug

    I love riding in the rain. I don’t have much of a problem staying warm unless its real close to freezing, then the spray hitting you hurts even through clothing. I usually dress like its 10 degrees colder then the actual temperature . The only thing I don’t like is when it rains on the way into work – putting on damp clothes at the end of the day is not fun.

  2. Bryan

    If it’s raining, or the roads are wet, I won’t head out. I don’t mind getting wet, or cleaning up afterwards, but I HATE having to break down the bike, clean it, relube, and put it all back together. If I’m quite a distance from home and it starts, oh well, I’ll already be wet so I’ll finish. A few weeks ago I was about two miles out on a ride and it started sprinkling, and it was clear more was coming. I turned around and headed back home and almost made it before the heavens opened up the flood.

  3. devin

    The Art of Riding In The rain,,,, or Racing in It.. I like riding in Snow time released rain.. anything is better than being on the Rollers..

  4. John

    can’t say I agree with Todd Herriot’s “screw it” when it comes to fender etiquette. in Victoria, where we get our share of rain, if you’re joining a group ride full fenders are expected, with an extender. if you show up without, you’re expected to ride at the back with other like minded riders.

  5. chris

    I’ve ridden and raced on road bikes in the PNW my entire life and have never had fenders. When I started as a junior, in Portland in the late ’80s, nobody except the odd bike shop employee had fenders on winter training rides. We would complain about the wet and cancel rides or wuss out, but I don’t recall any complaints about drinking water off the rear wheel in front of you. I would readily agree that many training rides in the pouring rain would have been better served — bike and body — on a set of rollers or a trainer in an unheated, covered area but I’ve always considered fenders a luxury I was too lazy to adopt. I might try the cut out plastic two-liter pop bottle trick one of these days…never done it yet!

  6. Jeff Werner

    It rains—steadily—for 6–8 months in Vancouver, just north of Seattle. As in, weeks will go by with non-stop rain. Fenders, with extension flaps, are required on all our Cat1/2 rides from the first rains in the fall through to the end of February before the first races in March. When you’re doing 4–5 hours on Saturday and Sunday in freezing temperatures with a constant downpour you don’t look kindly on the dudes adding misery to your misery—just when you’ve warmed up your soaked clothing to something just above freezing, the fenderless jerk in front (or behind) you is spraying fresh cold water down your jacket, shorts and feet.

  7. Ankney

    So that dude in the blue behind you totally eats shit about 1 sec after this photo was taken. at one point there was a photo series floating around of the crash. not complaining, i snuck into a top 10 because of it!


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