The Rainy Season

Waiting out the storm in Teluk Bahang.

Originally posted at I promise to get a proper post up soon.

There’s something about riding in the rain that I’ve always loved. Nevermind the slick roads, wet chamois and the need to clean the bike as soon as you get home, riding in the rain can be peaceful and at the same time exhilarating.

The thought that I HTFU and rode when others didn’t confirms my love of cycling, regardless of conditions. And the rain and the noise of it is relaxing and a reminder of the pureness of this sport. Just you and the bike.

A couple weeks ago I rode around the island here for the first time, and it was during a heavy rainstorm. The first ten miles ended at the group’s usual breakfast place, where we tried waiting out the weather. With a friend’s truck acting as the cavalry for some folks to get a lift back, a few of us soldiered on and headed out. There was much cursing for a couple of miles before I was thoroughly soaked and resolved to finish the ride. Pedaling felt more like treading water through the flooded areas and the descents were painstakingly slow at times, but at the end I made it home by going around the island instead of my usual out-and-back route. During it I climbed a mountain worthy of a ski area had it been back home.

This time of the year is the rainy season for Penang, so I expect a lot of similar rides in the future. I head out on any ride recently by anticipating a mid-ride rain shower, and I try to stay motivated when I need to ride and it’s already raining out. The hardest part is getting started.

I wanted to pass along some of my tricks for making a rain ride not suck as much, so you can also appreciate riding when the weather isn’t ideal.

  • riding through water is like riding through sand, keep the bike upright and a steady cadence to flow through;
  • in turns, lean your body to change the center of gravity instead of the bike. This will leave the greatest contact area of the tires in touch with the pavement and still let you go around a corner;
  • don’t mash the brakes but rather gradually apply pressure to avoid locking up one of the wheels;
  • constantly drink water. Between the cooler temperature during a storm, being soaked through and having to be extra alert at all times, you may forget to pull the bottle out.
  • wear a cap. Anyone I ride with will tell you that I always wear a cap while riding if it’s raining, and here, if I’m not wearing a cap you can bet that one’s in my jersey pocket. A cap gets the water out of your eyes so you can actually see where you’re going.

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