Tag Archives: rain bike

Rain in the forecast… it’s just that, a forecast. This is California. There will be opportunities to ride!

Day after day of seeing long-range forecasts showing rain, rain and more rain… if you enjoy riding a bike, don’t let it get you down!

  • The weather forecast is often wrong, and when it’s not wrong, it’s at least exaggerated. It hasn’t rained 10 days straight in California in ages, and when it has, it hasn’t rained every single hour on each of those days.
  • You can ride in the rain. Whether it’s a drizzle or a downpour, you can set up a bike for rain use and pretend to mind you’re not getting wet.

Today was one of those days where you wonder how many people stayed home instead of riding and missed out on at least a couple hours in the afternoon when the sun came out, the roads dried, and the clean air & lightly-traveled roads made it a joy to be out riding. But for Kevin and I, we first had to pay our dues.

We got out to a late start (yeah, pretty much the norm), around 11:45, and headed south. The original idea was to ride through the foothills to our Los Altos store, grab a quick bite to eat and then head up Redwood Gulch to Skyline, head north to Sky Londa and home. After spending a bit too much time in Los Altos we modified things a bit, heading north along Foothill and then up Moody & Page Mill to Skyline. Kevin was a bit concerned that we’d run into some real nasty stuff up top, but I just knew otherwise. How? Just my absurd certainty that foul weather wasn’t going to last forever… and it didn’t. The last three hours of the ride saw beautiful weather, fantastic views of the coast (and a mudslide you could see when you looked down on west-side Old LaHonda).

Kevin climbing Moody in bright sunshine, on a day that had been forecast for solid rain. I'd like to claim he was enjoying himself, but this was Moody Road, after all.

Would it have been nicer if it hadn’t been raining at all? And not had to stop a couple times to readjust fenders so they wouldn’t rub against tires? Sure! But how many people looked at the weather forecast and made up their minds they wouldn’t be riding today… and later looked out their windows and saw the sun shining and the roads drying off and realized they missed out?

Be prepared. Have a rain bike handy, something you don’t worry about keeping in great shape, set up with fenders and sturdier, wider tires for more traction and fewer punctures on wet roads. Skip the minimalist seat bag and go big, something with room enough for an inexpensive plastic rain jacket (they don’t stuff so well, but they do keep the rain off). Make sure you’ve got front & rear flashing lights, and, very important, wear a hat under your helmet, so when the rain gets nasty you can just tilt your head down slightly and keep most of it out of your eyes. Don’t even think about timing the ride; it’s not about speed, it’s about being on your bike, rain or shine, hot or cold, because riding a bike makes you feel complete.

Any wheel in a storm

OK, it wasn’t really a storm, but the roads were wet enough from last-night’s rain that it was time to get the rain bike out of the garage, with its fenders, wider all-weather non-slip tires and cheaper wheels that I don’t mind so much about grinding into the ground from brake wear. It’s simply nowhere near as fun or efficient to ride as my Madone, but it’s a lot more fun riding in the muck than sitting at home thinking about riding in the muck.

Just a few of us out there this morning; myself, John, Karen and George. Unfortunately for me, all three are stronger than I am on Kings, causing me to lose contact just about three quarters of the way up the climb, but never more than half a corner behind. Still, despite having to fight my way up the hill on tires that are anything but responsive (if you don’t think tires can completely change the personality of your bike, think again!), I did get up in just under 30 minutes, definitely faster than I thought I’d be doing. Oh, right, I’ll blame my rain bike for one other thing- Flinstone bearings. It’s making an awful racket from both the crankset and the rear wheel, undoubtedly caused by bearings that are no longer round.

That’s the beauty of a true rain bike. You replace things when they’re destroyed, rather than worrying about something not working quite right. But- please, please, PLEASE don’t treat your nice bike like that!!! One ride in the rain, just one, can cause enough damage to require a couple of hours of cleaning and continued riding in the rain will require far more frequent replacement of tires, brake pads and even wheels. If you’ve got a nice road bike that you place value in having run properly with good shifting & brakes, get a second bike for rain.

Getting back to the ride, I did start feeling better as it went on, becoming increasingly confident I could hold onto whatever wheel was in front of me,  although I didn’t have a choice in wheels as we headed west towards Old LaHonda, since both John and Karen had to get early and cut the ride short. Thankfully George was in a merciful mood today!