RIDING ON SLIPPERY SURFACES

Rain/snow is something all cyclists must ride through at some point. In the wet, the grip of your tires is reduced. Slow down extra for corners and do your best to use extra caution or try to avoid rolling over anything metal (train tracks, metal construction plates, sewers) as they become slippery as ice. When in doubt, dismount and walk.

Tips for riding across metal road obstacles:

  • Never turn or brake on metal—slow down gradually in advance when you can, release the brakes and roll straight.

  • Cross tracks as close to a 90° angle as you can and ride straight without turning.

  • Sewer grates are best avoided and are a good reason not to hug the curb while riding. Depending on their design, some slotted sewer grates can trap your tire and cause a crash.

  • A metal bridge should be safe to cross when it’s dry, but if the bridge is wet, use extra caution, and don’t brake or turn while crossing it. There is no shame in getting off your bike. If in doubt, dismount and walk. You can always switch to ‘pedestrian mode’ if you feel unsafe on a roadway for any reason.

  • As you approach a stop give your brake lever a couple light squeezes. This will squeegee the water from the rim and make the pads more efficient even if they’re still damp. Leave extra space and begin slowing down sooner than you would in dry conditions. (Not necessary if you have disc brakes.)

  • If you typically ride in dry conditions, you probably give little thought to your body position when stopping. But in wet conditions it is imperative to shift your weight back to maximize rear wheel traction. As you approach a stop, slide back on your saddle.

  • Probably the worst thing you can do in wet conditions is brake in a corner. You risk losing complete control and exponentially increase your chances of going down. Instead, brake early and release before actually making your turn.

  • Braking in the wet should primarily be with your rear brake. While it feels wrong and takes some practice, if you keep pedalling while braking, it reduces the chance of your rear wheel locking up and skidding/fishtailing.

  • Caution is also required when rolling over a build up of fallen leaves, steel street plates, wood or metal bridge decking and painted road markings which all require extra caution when damp.

  • As a cyclist, you should always avoid puddles. What might appear to be something minor could actually be a deep pothole or sewer grate. Avoid them and reduce your chances of a trip over the handlebars.

  • Rims with an aluminum braking surface are your best bet in the rain. The cork brakes used on carbon rims are less effective when wet.

  • If you know you'll be riding the whole day in wet conditions, letting 10 or so psi out of our tires will allow for more contact between the tire and the road.

  • Lights on. Just as cars are required to have their lights on if they're using their windshield wipers, cyclists should also light up.

  • Keep an old rag near where you store your bicycle and wipe off your wet chain as soon as you get home to preserve its lifespan. Be sure to relube your chain once it’s dry, before you set out on your next ride.

  • Wet shoes? Remove the insoles and stuff your shoes with newspaper. It will absorb all the moisture and should be dry to wear the next day.