Summer is here, and along with it Jo’burg’s epic highveld thunderstorms.
You might need to consider a few upgrades to your bike, to save yourself from muddy splashes and to ensure safety.
- Mudguards on your wheels will trap the worst of rainy/muddy splashes.
- Alternatively, you could carry an “ass saver” to attach when the going gets really wet.
- Lower your tire pressure to give better grip on wet roads.
- Thicker tires also give better grip, so consider changing if you need to.
- Check your brake pads regularly through the summer season – they wear out quicker in the rain.
- Have a good light, front and back, for visibility.
As with almost anything in life, with rain-cycling it helps to be prepared!
- Carry a good rain proof jacket (and trousers, if you really want to try stay dry) along with your repair kit. Choose lightweight stuff that is easy to roll up and store in small spaces.
- Make sure your stuff is waterproofed – cover your backpack with a waterpoof pouch, or put any electronics into a ziplock bag inside your backpack.
- Carry a “checkers” bag with you. When you lock up your bike on the street or outside, cover the seat with it. That way if it rains while you’re gone, when you get back to your bike you can get onto a dry seat.
- Make sure you wear something high-vis in the rain so that you are easily visible to cars through the grey.
- Let your commuting gear get wet, and keep a dry change of clothes at work.
- Gore-text is your friend! You can find skull-caps (if you don’t like your hair getting wet), full finger-gloves, booties and more in this material. You know how dry you like to stay so customise your rain outfit accordingly.
ON THE ROAD
All road users should exercise more caution when travelling in the rain – same goes for cyclists.
- If you have the luxury of working relatively flexible hours and you see a storm coming, start your commute before the storm hits… or wait for it to calm down before you leave.
- If you do get caught in the rain, try to avoid road paint on the street as it’s more slippery (Note that the new cycle lanes in Joburg are painted with non-slip green road paint, so you should be fine there).
- Be aware that it might take longer for cars to stop. A thunderstorm is no time to try bold new moves through the traffic!
- Ride slower since your brakes are dampened, it will take you longer than usual to stop, too.
- Find safe shelter if it gets too hectic. Jozi storms rarely last that long.
- Jo’burg’s road drainage is sometimes problematic – if you encouter a massive puddle, either use the pavement, or wait for a break in traffic to go around it.
If you’re well-prepared, cycling in the rain can be quite fun! Enjoy being out in the elements, and stay safe!