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The pros and cons of riding in the rain

5 reasons for and 5 against taking your bike out when it's wet

Kirsti Lay riding in the rain
Even at a training camp “sunny” California, Kirsti Lay and her Rally Cycling teammates found themselves riding in the rain

Throughout the outdoor riding season, it won’t only be spring rain that will interrupt your cycling plans. Year-round, cyclists need to decide whether they’ll go riding in the rain when the heavens open up. Some allow rainfall to foil their riding plans while others kit up and tackle the roads regardless of what mother nature throws at them. Like many decisions you have to make, there is an upside and a downside.

Con: It’s wet and cold

Riding in the rain comes with the obvious risks of getting wet which makes you more susceptible to getting cold. If you are just recovering from a big ride, a busy period at work or haven’t been sleeping as well if the elements get to you, there is a higher risk of catching a bug. Even if you don’t get sick, you can’t be blamed for being less than thrilled to get wet.

RELATED: Ask the coach: Should I train while sick?

Pro: With the right apparel it can actually be an enjoyable experience

It’s fun to battle the elements and get a good satisfying ride in even if the odds are stacked against you. Wet often comes with cold and if you manage to keep the elements out, or even if your gear does a half decent job and it’s not as bad as you expected, you’ll be really glad you headed out and got the ride in. Remember how fun it was as a kid to jump into a puddle? Well riding when it’s raining is the cyclist’s way of replicating that experience.

Con: You need good apparel and the right gear

A bike with fenders is nice if you are riding with friends. A raincoat is almost essential, weather resistant bibs will do wonder and proper gloves and booties can all make riding in the rain more enjoyable. However, you may not have all this apparel sitting in your wardrobe.

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Pro: You have a reason to get more gear to go riding in the rain

You don’t need to accumulate everything to ride when it’s raining all at once. Perhaps a first purchase is a good raincoat so you can at least head out when the rain isn’t too heavy. Next, you can purchase the proper gear to keep your extremities comfortable and then finally if you are really enjoying riding when it’s wet out you can go for some good weather resistant bibs of knickers. Maybe the golden rule of N+1 applies to because perhaps eventually you’ll want a dedicated bike for those rainy rides.

Con: You’ll put more strain on your drivetrain

Road spray results in more grit getting thrown up into your drivetrain and wet conditions will attract gunk to your chain. These conditions will wear out your components more quickly but it’s nothing that some tender love and care can’t help manage.

RELATED: 5 easy steps to make your components last longer

Pro: You’ll avoid the trainer and never miss a day of training

After you start riding outside it’s hard to go back to the indoor trainer. Whether you just really need to blow off some steam, need to prep the legs for an upcoming event or were just hitting your stride with your fitness plan missing a day and throw things off. If you learn to embrace riding when it’s raining you will never miss a day.

Con: Reduced visibility

Not only will your glasses get covered in droplets of train but the dark and gloomier conditions mean you will be less visible to drivers. For this reason it’s important to take extra precautions when riding in the rain such as wearing visible apparel and having a set of lights to ensure you are seen by drivers.

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Pro: It can be a challenge and an adventure

Cyclists are always looking to push their limits whether it’s to go a little further or a littler faster. Riding in the rain is a great way to challege yourself to adapt and make the most of the conditions thrown at you. While all your friends are sitting indoors, you can be building character while out for a rainy day bike adventure.

Pro: Maybe the rain will let up

The weather forecast is not always accurate. You could regret your decision to stay in if the rain ends up being light or there are just brief intermittent showers.

Con: It could just get worse

Accuracy can go both ways.

The team rides through the damp fog

Whether it’s raining in the one-time slot you have free for riding or you are lucky enough to have more flexibility, it’s up to you whether the upsides trump the downsides of riding when it’s raining. The severity of the rain may be the deciding factor but don’t immedietely write off your ride just because there is rain in the forecast, you may regret it.