WET WEATHER RIDING TIPS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKERS

Goodenough Road, Fillmore, CA. Photo by John Ker.

So stoked to be getting lots of rain so far this winter. The official On Two Wheel’s rain gauge has gulped down two and a quarter inches in the last week alone.  A pump track spouting grass is a small inconvenience (somebody’s going to have to pluck it) when you think that all this rain might shock us out of a drought. But with the rain comes the responsibility not to graffiti up the trails.

Riding a muddy trail results in trail widening and erosion. There are vague guidelines for how long to wait to ride after a storm (one day for every hour of rain), but this guideline doesn’t take many factors into consideration (like the downpour’s intensity or the type of terrain it dumped on). When it comes to your regular trails, just say no to mud riding.

That doesn’t mean you can’t ride in the rain. You simply have to use an alternative route. A graded dirt or gravel road constructed for logging and oil field workers (Goodenough Road in Fillmore is a perfect example) can be used in all weather conditions. These roads are engineered to withstand heavy-equipment use in adverse conditions.

The rule for dressing for rain is to admit defeat. It is impossible to keep your legs, feet and hands dry, so your goal is to keep warm. Starting from the top, wear a helmet with a visor and glasses with clear or yellow lenses. If it is cold, ear warmers or a beanie should be pressed into service under your helmet. Use layers everywhere else and a good rain jacket cut long in the back. You will probably overheat (most rain jackets turn into saunas on a long climb) so open the jacket’s zipper on the climbs. Your feet will get wet no matter what type of booties you put over your shoes, so wear socks made from CoolMax or Merino Wool. Both of these materials dry quickly.

Rain and grit are rough on your bike’s drivetrain and cables. Expect to replace them more often if you spend a lot of hours in the rain.

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