Coach's Corner:
Cold and Wet Weather Riding

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in The California Events Schedule, February 1993


To keep on training despite wind and rain (and have fun doing it!).


Attitude, clothing, tech tidbits, and riding style.

  • Attitude: Do whatever it takes to get yourself out the door. If you ride in the morning, set your bike up, fill your bottles, and get out your clothes the night before. Then just hit the road when you get up! Expect to be cold for a mile or two, so dress according to how you'll feel once warmed up. Enjoy the serenity of the winter months. There's less of everything on the road (bikes, cars, people), so think of yourself as a lone ranger. Reap the rewards of your commitment.
  • Clothing: Wear polypropylene wherever possible because it wicks your sweat away and keeps you warm like nothing else. You'll want full-fingered gloves (cheap polypro "glove liners" are usually enough), warmer socks, shoe covers (booties), a bandanna or two, and a hat to wear under your helmet. Arm warmers and leg warmers are great, too, because you can peel them off as necessary. Big niceties are a long sleeve polypro top (buy a long underwear shirt; it's cheaper than a jersey) and a cycling vest with rear pockets.
  • Tech Tidbits: Somewhat wider tyres on your road bike are good when the roads can be wet or even icey. I run 28mm tyres, rather than the traditional 21, 23, or 25mm, which means I have better traction, longer tread wear, a more comfortable ride, and superior rim protection for pot holes or trail riding. (Punctures are more common on wet roads, by the way.) Some unobtrusive yet effective reflective material on the wheels and cranks helps you be seen in these short and often dusky days.
  • Riding Style: You'll be warm once your blood's flowing well, so don't take too long getting warmed up. Ride the drops in a tuck position; you'll be more aero, plus you'll get your chest out of the wind. Spin a slightly easier gear for the first five miles; your knees will appreciate it and your form will improve. When it's wet out, ride your brakes lightly every so often to keep your rims dry and ready for real braking. Be careful cornering on wet roads, but enjoy the faster speeds that come from less rolling resistance and from the negative ions in the air (both due to rain/water).