Title explains it all. First RR ever and it’s supposed to rain, maybe even storm. Any advice? I was really looking forward to it so don’t want to bow out just cause it will be wet.
Eyewear for when you end up with water spitting at you as you try and hold wheels.
If you have carbon wheels with carbon brakes… you might want to switch back for aluminium
- Try to win;
- Try not to crash.
- Ride on the front for the entire race.
But (more) seriously, don’t freak yourself out way before you even line up! I used to love racing in the rain for a couple of reasons: 1) half the people hated/feared racing in the rain so their brains took them out of the race, and 2) out of the other half, half of them had no idea/little skill racing in wet conditions. Basically, when it rained 75% of the field was eliminated right off the start line.
Back to the solution, yes, if possible stay at the front of the group; you’ll avoid crashes, wasting energy in the much amplified slinky effect, and all the blinding in-your-mouth spray.
Big glasses are nice. The temperature also can drastically change how you dress. If it’s warm you may be fine just in your normal jersey and bibs. The thinner the material the better so it doesn’t get water logged. But if its going to be cooler then a good breathable but wind/waterproof jacket or vest can make a big difference.
But in terms of riding, I don’t think it makes as big of a difference as most people think. Unless you are already riding at the limits of grip, a good tire can handle wet roads pretty well. Just avoid paint when leaned over in a turn as it is almost always much more slippery than the asphalt. And be smooth. Gradually lean into turns, ease onto your brakes, and get your braking done before the turn (don’t be on the brakes and turning). In the wet you just need to flow a little bit more and you can’t be as aggressive as you can in the dry on the brakes and corner entry.
I’ve raced in the rain several times and assuming its not cold, its not that bad. Actually, the last race I won was in the rain so I now love racing in the rain!
The only adjustment you really have to make is cornering. Be super mindful of painted lines or metal (manhole covers or sewer grates). Avoid those generally but be very aware of where they are in corners. They will change the lines people take. If it is raining, study all the corners.
If it is raining prestart, consider how you’ll warm up, how wet you’ll get and if you want to change socks etc before the race and how you’ll ditch any clothing or jacket before the start if you’re going to do so but your far from your car.
Don’t overthink it. All the rain means is there will be some road spray so bring glasses and a cycling cap, it will be colder, you have to brake sooner for things and you go around the corners slower.
If can naturally adjust between a dry and wet training ride then I wouldn’t worry about rain in a race. You are going to be nervous regardless of whether it is wet or not so just go and give it your best shot, first road races are just learning experiences and becoming comfortable in that environment.
If it is going to storm and the wind is going to get gusty, you want to get to the front before any squalls hit. Water is annoying but irrelevant. Wind can affect the race. It is not fun to be in a tight pack full of aero wheels when gusty cross winds hit. The pack will slow when that hits. When you see the heavy stuff coming, attack!
You’ve gotten great advice in the above comments. One thing I haven’t seen is that you might consider taking a few PSI out of your tires before the race. I’ve found this substantially improves my handling on wet surfaces.
Best of luck!!
The big local crit had an aptly named ‘Crash Corner’ filled with manhole & maintenance covers, painted lines…and lots of hay bales.
All great advice thank you so much. I am lucky enough to have two sets of wheels - 56mm carbon aero wheels and alloy clinchers both rim brake. The carbon wheels have Enve’s new brake track which does pretty well in the rain.
Would it be a good idea to swap those before? I’m still unsure of when it will rain if at all so I’m sort of on the fence about it.
I know it’s not good to go into a race thinking you aren’t going to win. But if it’s your first road race and your not amazing, I would stick the alloy’s on and have one less thing to worry about in my first race.
If your planning on going off the front or getting in a break and going for the win, then stick with the Carbon deeps and send it.
Another rain race tip - at the end, you may be soaked and even if it dries out mid race, you’ll still be absolutely filthy and your bike will be too. Get a pack of diaper wipes for a post race clean up (they work on the bike too).
If its a long race and it really will rain the whole time, you might want to consider using a heavier more water resistant chain lube.
Lower tyre pressure. Chamois cream. Ride with tongue out.
You’ve obviously never ridden in a pace line on a wet road covered with goose poop . . .
…So stick with the carbon? LOL thanks for the advice. I will probably bring both and make a game time decision based on weather.
Very few of us are amazing. I know I’m not.
Had similar fears when my first road race turned out to be wet.
Actually it means a lot of riders tend to give a little more room and takes fewer risks in corners. These days I look forward to wet races as half the field won’t really be up for it.
Wear a cycling cap under your helmet - peak down to keep the spray off your eyewear so you can see, which usually helps.
Bike more upright than usual in corners, avoid road markings and grates.
If the rain is or has been heavy try to pre-ride or drive the course to check for danger spots like standing water, flooded potholes, mud etc.
If you suffer from cold hands/feet, wear decent gloves (neoprene) and winter boots or overshoes. No point trying to race if your fingers are so cold that you can’t feel the shifters or dab the brakes.
You’d be amazed how dispirited other riders will become after 2+ hours and their wringing wet and cold is setting in
I tend to ride an inch or two off to the side of whichever wheel I’m following when it’s wet out so that I don’t get a rooster tail spray in my mouth (or at least less of one). At least when it’s just cruising.