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Keep Riding in the Rain: Tips for Winter Commuting in Hawaii
We're pretty lucky here in Hawaii--the only obstacles we face when it comes to cycling are wind and rain. While the conditions these days might seem less than ideal on your morning ride, just think about how cold and snowy other parts of the country are, and smile at the thought that you can ride in the rain without risking hypothermia.
But, as they say, when it rains, it pours. And we haven't been getting many days without rain and strong winds. Here at the Hawaii Bicycling League, we still strongly encourage you to continue riding. Here are some wet weather tips to keep you on your bike and out of your car:
- Dress light, and pack a change of clothes. In Hawaii, it's warm enough that you don't need waterproof gear. You'll just sweat inside it and come out as drenched as you would from the rain. So, wear light, minimal clothing, and change when you get where you're going. Or, try clothing made from ultra-fast drying materials--you'll find a lot of athletic clothing that works well for this, including dedicated running and cycling apparel.
- Use a waterproof or highly water-resistant bag so your stuff doesn't get wet. Look for taped seams, so water doesn't seep through the zippers, especially if you carry electronics. If you only carry a phone, put it in a ziplock bag.
- Plan ahead. Wet roads mean slippery conditions and lower visibility. It will take you longer to get where you're going, but you'll get there and enjoy the ride more than you would in a car.
- Be careful. Anything metal, like grates and sewer covers, will be slippery. Even road paint and oil patches can be slick.
- Equip your bike with front and rear fenders. If you don't want to get splattered with dirt and debris, you'll need fenders to protect you from the grit that your wheels spit up at you from riding through puddles and on wet roads. You can purchase lightweight, clip-on fenders that are easily removed when skies are sunny. If you ride in the rain a lot, full-fledged, permanent fenders might be a worthwhile investment.
- Don't ride through puddles. They hide potholes!
- Clean your bike after riding, and make sure to lube your chain. Water can get in between the moving parts of your bike, and make things rusty, so be sure to dry it off quickly. Rain also washes away the lubricant on your chain, so lubricate it more frequently after riding in the rain.
- Carry a plastic bag (like a grocery bag) to wrap around your saddle when you park it outside. That way if you come back to a bike that's been rained on, your butt won't get wet when you get back on the saddle. It will also protect the saddle from water damage.
- Don't bother with sunglasses. They'll make it harder to see when they get wet.
Most importantly, have fun! Because of our beautiful warm weather, riding in the rain can be a refreshing change from riding in the heat. It cools you down, and doesn't leave you freezing. Ride safe!
Want to learn more about commuting by bike? Join one of our commuter cycling workshops, at hbl.org/commutercycling101.