Just because it’s wet and raining, it doesn’t mean it’s not a reason to grab the bikes out of the garage and go for a cycle down a single track. A mountain bike and a muddy track is a technical match made in a cyclists’ heaven. It makes things more interesting, gets your feet, and hands dirty and it means you can still get your cardio in come rain or sunshine.
To keep it an enjoyable experience and to make sure you stay safe during rain-riding, there are a few things you and your bike are going to need.
The first thing you need to look after is yourself. There are a few extra clothing items that you’ll need to cover up with to prevent yourself from freezing or getting drenched in rain and mud. Starting from your head to your toes:
- Glasses: Clear eyesight on your bike is just as important as a clear windshield when driving in the rain. You can’t squint your way through a single track and wipe your eyes every five seconds. That’s an accident waiting to happen. You need to make sure you have clear quality riding glasses. It will help you to see where you’re going and stop mud flicking from your tyre directly into your eyes. As much as this helps, the best combination for clear sight while riding in the rain is to wear a cap under your helmet or add an extended visor to your helmet.
- Jacket: Your usual cycling vest won’t be enough to protect you in the rain. You need to find yourself a cycling rain jacket to put over your usual outfit. You may want to wear a thermal vest under it as well to try and retain heat so as not to freeze to death. But trust that it is extremely uncomfortable to cycle when you’re dripping wet. Many waterproof jackets are also windproof which is also something you want to look out for during this type of cycling season.
- Gloves: Fingers and toes freeze first and the last thing you want is to further compromise your grip on the handlebars when it’s already raining. You’ll need full-finger, waterproof gloves for mountain biking in the rain.
- Booties: As for your feet, no-one enjoys having to defrost their toes after a long ride in the cold and wet conditions. Start with thermal dry socks and protect it all with waterproof overshoes.
Now that you’re all waterproofed out, it’s time to sort out your mountain bike and brush up on your rain-riding techniques before you hit the slippery road.
Mountain bike parts
When it comes to mountain bikes and rainy weather, there are additional mountain bike parts you can attach to try and reduce risk and make the ride more comfortable.
- Mudguards: If you would rather not have mud splashing into your face, onto your gear and all over your bike (although, to be honest, there’s not much that will prevent your bike from getting dirty in these conditions), you’re going to need mudguards on your mountain bike. You will need to attach mudguards to your front and back tyres to minimise mud-spray and protect both yourself and your bike as much as possible.
- Tyres: Mountain bike tyres are important when cycling in the rain as they make sure you stay gripped to the slippery ground below. You want wide, durable tyres with an open tread pattern that will encourage grip on the wet terrain. It’s also good practice to reduce the tyre pressure when mountain biking in the rain as this will also help with gripping the ground.
- Lights: Your bike should already have lights with reflectables attached to it, but riding in the rain is even more reason to have them. Rain clouds make for gloomy and dark days that require extra visibility. This is for your safety as well as of other riders on the track. Make sure you can’t be missed.
- Heavy chain lube: Mud and rain can have a corrosive effect on your bike parts if you aren’t careful. Obviously, you need to thoroughly clean your bike after every muddy ride, but as a preventative damage measure, make sure you use a heavier chain lube to protect your bicycle chains. And always make sure that your brake pads aren’t too worn.
It takes technical mountain biking skill to ride off-road in the rain. You need to keep an eye out for extra lines to take, should your tyre slip and an exit route is required. You should also be mindful of your speed, the fact that braking needs to happen earlier and where all the corners are on this route. But, other than that, just have fun!