Cold rain - suggestions?!

I have a race/ride this weekend, ~100 miles over mixed terrain ranging from mild single track to crappy roads - mostly gravel. I’m expecting to be out there ~7 hours. The current forecast is calling for 38 degrees (Fahrenheit) and rain almost the entire ride with the temp getting up to a balmy 45.

I’ve ridden in 45 degrees and rain before for hours in a gran fondo (with Ivan Basso of all people) and it was one of the more uniquely miserable rides of my life.

I’m looking for any suggestions to help. I have rain jackets and weather gear for every temp down to below 0 but nothing seems to keep me dry that long. My pain points are feet - they always seem to get wet regardless and the neoprene shoe covers just get soaked.

Any ideas? Help!

The Castelli ROS shoecovers have reviewed well. I’ve used them but not in a down pour. They are very nice and would be a lot better than neoprene in a steady rain.

Showerpass makes some waterproof socks.


One tip is to use electricl tape to tape up the holes in your shoes. I haven’t found anything that keeps my feet dry for really long times, but the best things that have worked for me are velotoze. They are a pain to take off and aren’t very durable, but are the best I’ve found to keep my feet dry the longest, and they are warm. Often my socks are damp from feet sweating rather than from water coming in.

I spent years trying and eventually conceded that if you’re going to ride for a decent time in the cold and wet…you’re going to get cold and wet. Embrace it! :grinning:

Even if you keep the rain and mud out, your sweat cools and has the same effect.

That said, you can improve things. Your feet or hands are the symptom, but not likely the cause - you need good cover for your limbs and core, even if that makes you feel a little too warm. Just drink more.

Multiple layers on the legs in particular. :+1:

For truly horrific rain and cold I always double up on the feet. Thicker socks doesn’t really work for me, in reality once they get wet it doesn’t matter how thick the socks are, they are still wet.

Tape up holes on your shoes, which is critical (don’t skip the venting on the top if it is really cold), duct tape works best I find. Then a thin overshoe, followed by a thicker overshoe. You have a choice at this point between waterproof or neoprene overshoes. If it going to be wet for the whole ride I prefer neoprene as they will get wet anyway.

I also find that cold feet don’t happen in a vacuum. If my shins/calves are cold, or especially my core, my feet are the first things to freeze. I can pretty much go down to 40 degrees with just a thin pair of overshoes and no gloves if my core is all good.

I like my neoprene overshoes bu I think the problem for me is that as my biblongs get tucked inside the top of the overshoe, that’s how water gets in.

So overshoes are great at keeping out splashes etc but it’s where they wrap round your shin/calf that lets in the gradual drip, and if you’ve taped up the holes in the bottom of the shoe then you are just going to get a puddle in your shoes!

So I would suggest just embracing it. But if you want to try this…leave a few holes open on your shoes so that water has a way of getting out, if this is partially hidden by overshoe then great, and trying to seal, as best you can, the join between the top of the overshoe and your leg. Maybe wearing the biblongs over the over shoe? Although that may have fashion repercussions :slight_smile:


Ride long enough in enough rain, and water is going to get in. Even if not through the shoes themselves, then from hitting the front of your legs and running down.

Also agree cold hands and feet are the symptom, not the cause, and you should start with keeping the head, neck and torso warm. Shoecovers and thick gloves will only lead to well-insulated cold extremities if the core is cold.

A big part of staying warm is keeping the wind off wet clothing and skin. Lightweight windproof jackets/vests can be a highly effective addition to your clothing. On a recent Fondo that was considerably wetter and colder than forecast, with 12 miles along an exposed 6000ft ridgeline, the aid station was handing out bin liners to wear under the jersey - no style points, but totally did the job.

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It may not look very stylish but when I’m likely to be in persistent heavy rain on my MTB I wear a pair of horse riders half chaps which go over the overshoes or ankle boots. Result - no water in through the top of the boot. That coupled with goretex boots keeps my feet absolutely dry.

Cold rain? That’s what TR is for :wink:

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Wool socks. Wool baselayer. Water proof or resistant leg and arm warmers. Lots of Vaseline. And a cap.

I just let my feet get wet. It’s inevitable. Get it over with and let the wool keep you warm as best it can.

After a stretch of sunny and warm spring days I’m racing on Sunday with a high of 8c and rain. Crummy.


Sounds like a great day for embrocation. Mad Alchemy is my go to.

Wet and cold is the worst combo. There’s really not any good solutions.

One thing you can try for your feet is something like vapor barrier liners (VBLs), except put them on over an insulating layer, instead of close-to-feet with insulating layers on top like the usual application.

Wear a mid weight wool sock, and put plastic bags over the top (I use the ones you get at the grocery store for putting veggies and fruit in - light, and waterproof). Then put on your usual shoe covers.

If you do this, it’s important not to sweat, as if you do, your insulating later will get soaked with sweat.

If this is your first time riding with VBLs, it may be hit and miss experience. Bring a spare pair of socks in case you overheat and soak your initial pair.

Here’s a good overview of VBLs. The conditions you describe are not ideal for using VBLs, but can work to keep your feet dry (and warm) in the right conditions.

You can try two pairs of socks with a plastic bag between them. Freezer bags work great. Tape the top to keep water out.

As ChrisJDunbar says use wool socks and vaseline. i would add the use of embrocation and add the vaseline a good 30 minutes before starting the ride. I would make a small investment with a BBB cover for the helmet as this will keep a lot of rain off the head and keep you warmer. In UK
For my top and legs my Sportful Fiandre Extreme is my go to choice with Sportful no-rain leggings.
For gloves, ive not found a pair that stay dry for long periods, hence i tend to only ride for a couple of hours in the rain. To protect the feet i’d use my northwave raptor winter shoes.

Good luck and hope you enjoy the day.

For wet and cold conditions i have used this embro in the hot for a few years.
I have tried just about everything to keep my feet dry but its pointless and now
just accept they will get wet.

honestly, when it’s that cold, unless you are getting paid to do this or enjoy that type of suffering, i’d just reschedule it. That sounds like a no fun day


This was the LLWH, right?
How’d you end up making out? It was a nasty day out there.

Yeah it was LuLacka. Two days beforehand I severely sprained my left ankle and considered pulling out but didn’t want to miss the day with my friends.

The first twenty miles were those: “Yeah we are hardmen and this is awesome,” miles. I was unable to stand due to my ankle and couldn’t put out a ton of power so got left with one other friend (thank God) going slower. We were fully committed to the 100 and every time we passed a turn off neither of us would look at each other or speak because we were that close to quitting.

It was the coldest, wettest worst ride of my life. It never stopped raining.

At around 48 miles my friend suggested we reroute the fastest way home because my ankle swelled so much it was hitting the crank arm and he was too cold to brake effectively. Before he could even finish his sentence I agreed and we started back, abandoned at an aid station with a space heater and quite literally huddled around a space heater with other abandoned cyclists for warmth for hours waiting for rescue. It was genuinely dangerously cold.

Not one of the 14 of us finished, for several of the truly experienced riders it was the first time they’d ever DNFed. I think our of 500 there were only 3 guys that finished the hundo.

Short story: it was miserable and I loved every minute of it with my friends AFTER it was over. Great day.




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Sorry to hear about the ankle.

Things didn’t really go to well for us either. We all started out for the 100, but at the first official rest stop all but 3 of us opted to start heading back. That group ended up with about 55 miles.

Two others and I pressed on; with-in twenty minutes it was pouring rain. We agreed to push on to the taco stand (60 miles in) before we made any decisions about changing the routes.

We ran into some trail magic; a local was pulled over on the side of one of the dirt roads with a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon offering shots to the riders. That kept us warm enough to get up to the taco stand, but by the time we got there I was soaked, freezing cold, and having problems feeling the brakes because my hands we so numb. We probably hung out there for 10+ minutes because it was a chance to be out of the rain and eat some real, hot food.
Looking at the signage there we realized that switching to following the metric century route meant we only had 20 miles to go. We agreed on that plan and headed on our way.

I actually felt pretty good when we got to the split in the routes, and for a moment thought about continuing on the longer route. One of the three of us did actually split off, he ended up riding the whole 100 miles. The other two of us continued on the short route, and after getting a flat, finished with a respectable 79 miles for the day.

It was a tough day; it might be the hardest outdoor adventures I’ve had. But all in all, I think there were more moments when I was enjoying the absurdity of the situation then being in pain.

I’m hoping for better weather next year but I plan on being prepared for similar conditions (and taking off Monday) so that I can power through.