Cape Town’s winter can be a hectic time for cyclists. When the North West winds roll in bringing lashing rain and wind, it can discourage even the most enduring of the cycle-warriors from going out for a ride or commuting by bicycle. But fear not – here are some solid tips to help you safely and comfortably ride rain or shine.
GEAR UP – BECOME A WET WEATHER WARRIOR
- Use a front white light, rear red light and reflectors when visibility is poor or when riding at night (this is required by law).
- Wear bright colors and reflective gear (vests or jackets). Vests are a cheap solution and can be easily stored in your bag; and reflective bands for ankles and sleeves also work well.
Stay warm and dry
- Wear waterproof clothing that is breathable with warm layers underneath will keep you comfortable and dry.
- Keep a spare outfit handy incase you become soaked
- A cycling cap will keep excess spray out of your eyes
- Glasses with clear or yellow lenses will aid your vision on overcast days
- Keep a plastic bag with you to place over your seat to keep it dry
Bring a repair kit
- Keep a kit on your bike with puncture tools, inflator, and spare tubes.
BEFORE YOU RIDE
Make these preparations
- Apply lubricant generously to the chain before a wet ride.
- Remember to clean mud and grit from bicycle after a wet ride and re-lubricate chain
- Dry all metal components after a rainy day ride
- Check tyre pressure and keep the pressure a little lower for wet rides
Install fenders or mudguards
- Install front and rear fenders on your bicycle to keep water, mud, and grit on the ground and off of you and your bicycle.
ON THE ROAD
Avoid these dangers
- Steer clear of drains, painted lines, fallen leaves, and manholes
- Avoid puddles that may hide submerged potholes and other hazards.
- Avoid rainbow-tinged oil patches on the ground. During the first few minutes of rain, oil seeps from the roadway making it very slick.
- Be cautious cycling over bridges, metal grates and painted lines and crosswalks as they can be very slick.
Follow these braking rules
- Use rear brake on wet roads
- Water on the rims will make it harder to stop. Apply the brakes lightly to clean off the rims before you need to stop. Give brakes a few quick squeezes to dry before attempting a full stop. Pump” your brakes a few times before reaching a stop street to remove water from the rim before pulling the brakes for stopping
- Brake earlier than usual and allow a greater distance for stopping.
- If you need to brake during a turn, apply the brakes slowly.
- Continue to pedal while braking rear wheel
- Keep your weight centered and slightly back while braking to maintain best control and balance.
Most importantly, follow these golden rules to maximize safety.
Follow these golden rules
- When the roads are wet, don’t get in a hurry, slow down and stay relaxed.
- Cycle extra defensively and cautiously to help avoid accidents with cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists.