If you’re unlucky enough to wake up on the big day to dark skies and dampness in the air, there are some precautions and tips you can follow to ensure you still have a safe and fun ride.
Slow down and you’re more likely to successfully and safely complete a wet sportive. Breaking time is increased in the wet so keep it in mind. Your tyres will have less traction and are more likely to lock out and skid than they would in the dry. Even though it’s tempting to ride a sportive as fast as possible, for your own safety, take it a bit easier.
Make sure your brakes are in tip top condition if you’re going to ride a wet sportive. They are likely to be less effective so it’s best if they are working as well as possible to start with.
Inspect your brake pads for flint and grit and clean your rims of any gunk (if using rim brakes). If in doubt, replace pads and brake cables or have your brakes adjusted by your local bike shop.
Lowering your tyre pressure by 10-15psi increases the surface area of your tyre on the road surface and will increase your traction in the wet. You’ll need a track pump to do this and if you haven’t got one already it’s a worthwhile investment.
Cornering reduces the traction between the tyre and the road surface. For this reason you should try to avoid braking while cornering. Slow down in anticipation of the corner. While actually riding through the corner look where you want to go, not where you’re going and lean your body weight onto the outside pedal of the bike so you can lean into the corner. These tips apply for the wet and dry but just take it easier when it’s wet.
Watch the following video for some more cornering tips:
White lines, grates, anything slippery
The white lines, cats eyes, grates and anything else that’s not the tarmac can be slippery at the best of times. In the rain they can be especially treacherous. If you can, avoid them. If you can’t, try and ride straight over them and don’t brake.
If it’s cold as well as wet it’s vitally important to stay warm. It’s much harder to safely control a bike if your too shivery or numb to control the brakes or steering.
Consider packing a gillet or jacket if the weather is chilly.
If it’s wet and warm, you have less to worry about. It’s then down to your preference of staying dry from the rain but probably wet from the sweat, or wet from the rain but not overheating from a jacket. Don’t forget that you can only get so wet, skin is waterproof.
Mudguards won’t keep you dry, though they will help, but they will stop you from spraying water onto your feet, legs and the rest of your body and face. This should make the ride marginally more comfortable.
If it’s dark and wet, you should attach some lights and/or wear some visible clothing. Most sportives take place on open roads so it’s important to ensure you are visible to other road users.
The other aspect to keep in mind is your own visibility. If it’s raining very heavily, consider wearing a cycling cap under your helmet to stop the rain running into your eyes as much.