As an avid cyclist and Athlete, there is little doubt that you have seen or can visualize professional cyclists (as well as other Endurance Athletes) racing in cold and wet conditions.
And depending on your outlook, that image can intimidate or inspire you.
Take a moment to think about it - does the visualization of ‘toughing-it-out' in wet and windy conditions stir positive emotions of commitment, drive, and perseverance?
Or does it make you cringe and wince, as the idea of being soggy sends shivers down your spine?
No matter what you think about training or racing in the rain, it is normal to prefer training in comfortable weather conditions. It’s just easier.
However, due to the reality that participating in an outdoor sport ‘year-round’ means making peace with all seasons, as well as the idea that at some point wet weather will make an impact on your preparation for, or even your participation in, your goal event it is important to know how to cope with these conditions.
It is with that in mind that we created this two-part series on Wet Weather Riding.
In this episode of “Wet Weather Riding” we will cover the post ride clean-up process.
Regardless of whether your soggy riding extravaganza is a result of completing your goal event or simply a training ride in the journey to it, there are a few things that can be done at the completion of your ride to make the experience better.
Note: In case you missed the first episode in our Wet Weather Riding Series, on clothing and preparation for the elements, you can check it out here-
Riding in wet and cold conditions leaves most Athletes with one thing on their mind, getting dry and warm after the ride! Photo Credit: Danny Munson
Five Post Rain Ride Clean-Up Tips
1: Get Warm & Dry ASAP!
Although it may seem obvious to get warm and dry ASAP, it is not always easy to achieve.
Riding in inclement weather conditions can be very challenging and even overwhelming depending on the severity of the weather.
Many times, following rain races, or riding in severe weather, Athletes simply want a chance to ‘catch their breath’ before cleaning-up.
Although it is normal to take a moment of relaxation after completing an epic race or training day, we cannot stress enough how important it is to get warm and dry following a ride in inclement weather.
The reason for this is that prolonged exposure to cold or wet weather will lower an Athletes’ core temperature. And if the exposure is long enough, or severe enough, it can spur the onset of illness.
Thus, it is important to get dry and layer-up the clothing to get warm as soon as possible.
The simple suggestion here is to get dry and warm, in that order, as quickly as possible in order to avoid prolonged exposure to the elements.
2: Rinse Your Bike Off When Possible
‘Hosing-down’ your bicycle with a quick spray of the hose, immediately following a race or training session, will make your equipment clean-up process a lot easier.
Granted, no one likes being cold and miserable any longer than they have to, but using a hose to spray-off the heavy grit and grime from your bike immediately following wet weather training or racing is very beneficial.
It is particularly important to clean and remove mud or grit from the wheels, derailleurs, chain and other drivetrain parts.
Basically any part of your bicycle that has bearings, bushings, or hinges is important to have the grit and grime sprayed off.
When left on the bicycle, this grit and grime dries causing corrosion or rust that attacks expensive parts. This corrosion and rust can severely impair your bicycles performance on the next ride.
We suggest a quick rinse (not a full cleaning), with a regular hose immediately following any wet weather training or racing session.
It only takes a few minutes of time, but can save a lot of clean-up later as dried mud and grime is much more difficult to remove.
3: Removal Of Embrocation Cream
If your outdoor adventure warranted application of Embrocation Cream, your post ride shower may be a surprise!
For anyone who has used ‘embro’ cream in the past, they already know that the warm tingle that characterizes Embrocation Cream can turn into a burning sensation (or worse) in the shower.
That is why we suggest using dish-soap, a product like Chamois Butt’r Skin Wash, or at least a towel, to remove the build up of ‘embro’ on your legs before showering.
Be sure to scrub all areas of skin thoroughly in order to minimize the temperature increase felt when in the shower.
For those Athletes that regularly use Embrocation Cream, or anyone that cannot stand the fiery feeling of burning legs, we suggest using a dedicated product like Chamois Butt’r Skin Wash.
It is very effective at reducing the burning sensation that can make a post rain ride shower miserable. Simply spray it on “embro’d” legs and wipe them down with a towel, then hit the shower to warm up!
Getting your shoes dry after riding in the rain can be a difficult task, but is made many times easier with the help of newspaper and a fireplace! Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
4: Dry Your Cycling Shoes With Newspaper
There are few things more miserable than soggy shoes, but what is undoubtedly worse than wet feet is having to wear wet cycling shoes on your next ride!
There is a simple solution to cure soggy-shoe syndrome…newspaper.
Following any riding in the rain we recommend that insoles be removed from your cycling shoes, then stuff each shoe with plenty of newspaper.
The newspaper pages will soak-up the water in the shoe and help dry them prior to your next ride.
It should be noted that, depending on the type of shoe and the material it is constructed from, it may take more than one round of newspaper to adequately dry your cycling shoes.
As a bonus, we suggest placing shoes near heater vents and/or a fire place to speed the drying process.
5: Avoid A Rusty Chain With An Extra Application Of Chain Lube
Rust and corrosion are the enemy of moving parts and can greatly shorten the life-span of a bicycle chain.
Because both rust and corrosion start when water settles on metal parts, we suggest applying a liberal coat of high-quality chain lube or WD-40 to your bicycle chain following any rain ride.
Applying chain lube after the ride, or preferably following the quick clean-up described above, is sure to make your next training ride much better.
The gunk and grime that comes along with a rain ride is easily combatted with an application of chain lube or WD-40, which prevents the build-up of rust and corrosion.
This also helps avoid the annoying sound of a ‘dry’ chain on your next training ride.
Training and racing in the rain is one thing, but snow is a whole beast unto itself. It may be better to enjoy snowy conditions sitting by the fireplace with a hot cup of tea instead of from your bicycle saddle. Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
Post Rain Ride Bonus: Enjoy A Warm Coffee Or Tea
If riding or training in the rain leaves you with the chills, a warm-shower and dry clothes may not be enough to warm you up.
If that is the case, we suggest a hot cup of coffee or tea, to warm you up from the inside!
Also, a good bowl of your favorite soup is another great suggestion to help warm-up following any training or racing in the rain!
Training or racing in the rain may sound like an unsavory affair, initially, but with the tips provided in parts 1 & 2 of our Wet Weather Riding series, you will be able to train outdoors, even when the weather is damp.
By utilizing proper clothing and equipment you will be able to insulate yourself from inclement conditions, while developing a quick post-ride routine is sure to help protect your equipment from long-term damage.
One of the draws of cycling, for most Athletes, is that the sport challenges us to push our limits and get outside our comfort zone.
It is with this in mind that we hope these tips can help you push your own limits so that you can emerge from this winter stronger and better prepared for your spring and summer goals!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
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