It’s raining outside, but you can still ride.
It’s not often I wonder if I live in Seattle. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever compared Dallas to Seattle, but with all the rain the past few weeks it’s a fair assessment that I might have moved to the northeast instead of the lone star state. I attached a graphic of the past few weeks and the forecast for next week to give you a visual of what we Texans are dealing with. It’s not that we don’t like rain, I mean the grass is green, crops are growing like crazy, and the lakes are overflowing. Most of my frustration along with trees dropping like flies and the flooding is that my mountain bike is getting dusty and my other bikes are getting dirty.
Riding in the rain isn’t impossible and can be fun if you do it safely and are prepared. First advice is, do not ride in a thunderstorm, tornado, or through flood waters. This might seem obvious, but I came across a lady that rode her bike through a flooded street by Flag Pole Hill and lost her bike in the waist level water.
If you are riding on the street, watch out for striping, sewer covers, bricks, rail road tracks, and puddles (there might be a pothole under there). Anything that looks slick probably is. Try to avoid them all together if you can. Proceed at a safe speed and keep a straight line while riding unless it’s railroad tracks. Cross those at an angle.
Here’s a few suggestions of gear to invest in to stay comfortable while riding in the rain:
Rain jacket and pants-jackets are great by themselves if you don’t mind your pants getting wet. Cleverhood has a great selection of riding capes. They are a good mix of a jacket without needing the pants.
Waterproof panniers or a back pack-keep your extra clothes dry once you get to your destination. This one from Timbuk2 doubles as a shoulder bag when not on the bike.
Cycling cap-keeps the rain from directly hitting your eyes. Dallas based Ellum Bag Works makes a variety of caps perfect for everyday riding.
Fenders-front and back to stay extra dry. Plastic foldable back fenders are awesome if you want something inexpensive and easy. This one is made by ass-savers.
Clear lens glasses-keeps the rain and dirt out of your eyes. I have these by Rudy Project and love them.
Shoe covers-for road bike riding on wet days. Opt for the waterproof version. Pearl Izumi makes well designed cycling accessories.
Lights, always have a good set of lights. If you ride at night in Dallas, please have a pair of bright lights. You don’t need them just to be seen, but you need them to see the road. Knog makes a good set of front and back lights that’s sold together.
Once you get to your destination, your bike is going to be wet and probably a little dirty. Use the towel you packed in your waterproof bag and dry it off. If you have room, flip it upside down minding your seat and handle bars, and let any excess water drain from parts you can’t see inside of like your seat post. When you get home is the time to do a proper cleaning. Bicycling magazine put together this thorough tutorial on how to clean your bike. Don’t forget to pack a plastic bag or pouch lined with waterproof material to put your wet gear so it doesn’t get the other stuff in your bag wet.
Stay safe and dry out there. Here’s a picture I took today of the Trinity Trails in West Dallas.