Tips: Mud and wet weather
No new feature this month and usually it’s more suitable to post before the rainy season, but with the changing climate it can happen any time, as we all have experienced.
Some people don’t ride when it’s raining or muddy, but they are actually missing out. Not only is it good to be prepared; you never can plan when it will rain and you may end up riding that race that you have been training for for so long in wet weather. But, the main reason is that it’s fun and the trail that you always ride is now completely different. There’s more grip in some places, whilst it’s slippery in other places. Rocks gets exposed, soft sand is becoming rideable and the air is clean and fresh. Here are some tips to make the most of it
As usual the most important thing is look where you go: The rain changes the trails but the result is different everywhere and every time . Here are some specific things to look for and adjust your riding or line choice.
Ruts: Heavy rain can cause ruts. They can be deep and zig-zag down the trail. Try to look far ahead so you don’t get caught out at a dead end and cannot stop in time.
Trees and branches: The rain makes the branches heavy and they hang lower than usual or can even cause a tree to fall down. Be alert around blind corners.
Bridges/Jumps: The rain fall can be very local and if you just crossed three bridges, that doesn’t mean that the next will also be there. Reduce your speed and if you cannot see where you go; check it first.
Streams: Sometimes you see a little stream on a hill. The soil is washed away and the rocks are exposed. It may look like a line to avoid but this is the place where you find the most grip on the climb or descent.
Soil vs sand: Rain makes the clay type of soil extremely slippery, while wet sand actually provides more grip than dry sand. Use that knowledge when choosing your lines. You may ride completely different lines in wet weather.
Roots, rocks, pipes and bridges: These will all be more slippery when wet, guaranteed. Always approach them at a 90 degree angle. Try to un-weigh the wheel that is riding over the root, rock or pipes front and back, but really try to get the front wheel right, the back is more difficult to get right and easier to get away with if you don’t get it right.
Always treat bridges with respect, but especially when wet. Like any slippery surface, try to avoid changes in direction, braking and accelerating. If you need to, do it gently and either brake, accelerate or change direction.
The rider: We all know there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Living in the amazing KZN climate it may seem unnecessary to invest in a rain jacket, but a modern rain jacket makes a big difference. They keep you dry and still offer some ventilation. As a bonus they also come in handy on those cold winter mornings. Protect your phone against the rain with one of our LOVI phone pouches and spray a bit of silicone spray on your cleats to avoid mud sticking on to them.
After the ride: Stay warm. Put on an extra jacket or better shower, change and have a coffee (we have both). Bring your bike in for a wash and lube and it will be like new when you pick it up after your shower and coffee. ☕
The bike: A little fender on the fork helps a lot to keep you (and your glasses) clean. A polished bike does not pick up as much dirt as a bike that is already dirty. We all use a dry lube because it does not rain that often, but there is wet lube that is specifically designed for wet conditions, just don’t use this lube in dry conditions as then the dirt sticks to your drivetrain.