No one really likes riding in the rain. Riding in the mud, now that’s another thing, but there’s few people that will readily admit to happily venturing out onto the trails when the rain is coming down like stair rods.
However, with Britain enjoying the climate it does through the winter, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to ride in the rain on more than a few occasions. But it’s not all bad; some of our best rides have been during such conditions. With a few careful kit choices, riding in the rain needn’t be the unpleasant experience you might expect it to be.
So here are some of our recommend nations for kit that will help you enjoy any ride in the rain. Even if it’s only by a small margin, that’s enough in our books to make it worthy of consideration. Perhaps we’ve missed something out or you don’t agree with some of our suggestions, if so let us know in the talkback box below.
When we first discovered the absolute joy of wearing waterproof socks, it literally changed our view on riding in the wet. Get some, you won’t regret it. I’ve been wearing the same pair for nearly all my winter riding and the socks are always the first item of winter clobber that comes out of the depths of the wardrobe at this time of year.
We’ll be the first to admit that we’re challenged by the aesthetics of fitting mudguards to our pride and joy, but having experienced just how nice it is to ride without that continuous spray of water up your back and bum and flicked up from the front wheel into the face, mudguards just can’t be beaten when it’s really horrible out there. There’s plenty of choice and many are lot more stylish than 10 years ago.
An absolute essential, and yes an obvious one to go on this list. But there are jackets and then there are good jackets. A jacket shouldn’t be an area to skimp on, after spending the best part of a couple of grand on a mountain bike; you really should invest in a decent jacket. One that boasts high levels of water resistance and high breathability are a must, and extra features like pockets and vents push the price up, but don’t let them stray you away from investing in a jacket made from decent fabric. (read more about what to look for when buying a jacket here http://www.bikemagic.com/gear-news/what-to-look-for-in-waterproofs/3709.html)
Once you loose the feeling in your hands on a cold or wet (or both) ride there’s no getting the warmth back in them quickly without seeking refuge in a warm cosy café with a large mug of hot chocolate. Waterproof gloves, usually with some sort of membrane inside the fabric, will keep the worst of the rain from turning your hands into shrivelled prunes.
A woolly hat or beanie underneath your helmet acts as a good defence against all that cold air that your wind tunnel designed lid does so well to channel across your scalp – all well and good when it’s hot but in the winter that’s not really what you want. A thin hat, ear warmer band or Buff is a must (even if you have a good head of hair).
As contact lenses wearers, there’s nothing more painful than getting mud splattered in the eye when slamming through a deep puddle. Even without contact lenses, it’s a good idea to stop all that mud, rain and grit from getting anywhere near your eyes (you’ve only got the one pair after all) so a pair of inexpensive sunglasses with clear lenses – or yellow for low light riding – are a really useful bit of kit to remember on your next ride.