Cyclists in an arid zone like Bendigo don’t have to worry about rain very often. When it does rain, though, you’ve got more to think about than getting wet and miserable. You need to be more vigilant on the road and when you get home, give your bike a bit of attention.
As a cyclist you always need to be vigilant. You can never be sure that motorists have seen you. When it’s wet, you really need to be on your toes. Smeared windscreens or heavy rain are going to make everything harder to see.
Dressing to be seen is good practice in any weather, but even more so in reduced visibility. A bright yellow rain coat may bring back memories of frog gum boots and matching hat, but it’s going to make you easier to see. Combining night with rain makes you seriously vulnerable. Think, think, think about whether drivers and the odd brave pedestrian can see you.
Because the other thing that both cyclists and motorists need in wet weather is a longer distance to stop. The roads can also be slippery, especially if it hasn’t rained for a while. Good tyres are essential, again for both cars and bicycles, to give you the best traction you can get in the wet. In the wet, everyone needs to take extra care.
But while the car owner may be able to simply park the car, dirty, in the garage, your bike needs some extra attention after a soaking. Everything collects water, grit and oil from the road – none of which is kind to moving parts.
As soon as you can, clean all the grit off your chain and relubricate it with a bike chain lubricant. Oils only attract more dirt. Don’t forget to clean your chain rings (the big sprockets at the front) and cluster (the small sprockets at the back) as well.
Drop your wheels out and wipe your brake blocks. They can pick up grit and little bits of metal from the road. Once they’re embedded in your brake blocks, they’ll start grinding away at your wheel rims. Wipe grease and oil from the road off your wheel rims too, otherwise you’ll have reduced braking efficiency in the dry as well. (All good practice for road side puncture repairs!)
And wipe down the rest of your bike too, including exposed cables. It will keep it all from rusting.
See you on the road soon, God willing. Eddie Barkla
First published in the Bendigo Weekly Friday 11 August 2006