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How to Overcome the Cyclist’s Fear of Bad Weather

By Jiri Kaloc

Bad weather can be the enemy of your cycling if you’re afraid of it. The first step to getting comfortable with riding in bad weather is to make sure you’re carrying the gear for it and you know what to look out for. Let’s go over some basics.

Don’t rush into it

If you have bad memories of cycling in bad weather or you’re simply not confident how you’d handle it, it’s best to take it slow. You can start by cycling in light rain and gradually work your way up to more challenging conditions. You should also talk to other cyclists you trust about your fear of bad weather. They can provide you with support and advice, and help you gain perspective.

Be ready for the expected

Some things change about cycling when bad weather comes. It doesn’t mean you can’t stay safe, you just have to adjust to the new situation.

Mind your stopping distance: Bad weather equals wet roads and that means a longer stopping distance. Your traction is worse and breaking isn’t as effective, even if you have disc brakes. Be extra careful around wet road paint, wet steel such as rails, and wet leaves, as those get the most slippery.

Maintain your body temperature: Proper clothing is essential for bad weather. A single rain jacket is a must. It can keep you dry, help you conserve body heat, and protect you from wind. But if you feel like cycling in bad weather is not keeping you warm enough, be ready to make the call to stop and seek shelter.

Be cautious of lightning: It’s important to know that bicycle tires won’t protect you from lightning. The energy output is just too high and tires are too small to insulate you. If you feel like lightning is likely, it’s best to seek shelter in a sturdy building or under a bridge.

Cycling in bad weather
Bad weather can be the enemy of your cycling if you’re afraid of it. © Profimedia

Be ready for things going sideways

This brings us to another fear that cyclists commonly have related to bad weather. The fear of getting stuck far from home. You can likely avoid bad weather being the cause of this by planning your route appropriately based on the forecast. And you should take your phone with you when riding far from home, especially when bad weather is likely, so that you can call for help. It’s also a good habit to let someone know where you’re headed and for how long.

The second most common reason cyclists get stuck far away from home are mechanical issues. Being unable to deal with mechanical problems can greatly increase this fear. To get over it, you should have the tools and a basic understanding of how to fix the most common issues.

Fix a flat tire: Remember to carry a spare tube, tire levers, and something to inflate your tube with (CO2 cartridges are light and convenient, but a pump can be used multiple times). Ideally, you should get some practice fixing a flat at home.

Repair a broken chain: Breaking a chain is rare, but devastating when it happens far away from any help. Thankfully, it’s also easy to fix. You need a multitool with a chain breaker to remove the damaged link, as well as a “Powerlink” to rejoin the ends quickly and without tools. This can be invaluable on longer trips.

With the right gear, tools, and skills under your belt, you can overcome your fears and become more confident cycling, regardless of the weather or your distance away from home.