The drench-o-meter at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky airport shows 10 ½ inches of rain this April, an all time record. You’d think that’s like Portland rainfall. Not even close. Portland’s average monthly rainfall for April is a wimpy 2.4 inches. Even in the cute rubber rain boot capitol of the US, Seattle gets only 6 inches of rain in its rainiest months of December and January. We passed Seattle rain two weeks ago. Before you start feeling like one helluva hardass for not missing one training day due to rain, consider our 10 ½ inches is a third of the average monthly rainfall at Kukui on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, where at an elevation of 5,788 feet, the average monthly rainfall is 32.81 inches. According to Velominati’s Rule #9, you’d be one hell of a badass to ride in Kukui or get killed trying.
My cassette looks like a chocolate Krispy Kreme donut stuck in my spokes. Black silt covers my fork like a beard. A dull gray sheen has come over my silver Sram Red brakes. The sad thing is my bike got the full-meal-deal cleaning last week. I even overhauled my headset, for the 2nd time this winter/spring. It’s easier said than done to HTFU when you start feeling like rain is acid falling from the sky chiseling ruts in your rims and rounding off your cassette. Just like riding with a wet chamois, it’s not so much the water, but that fine layer of grit that’ll make your groin and bike beg for mercy. Here are some tips to save your bike in the rain.
Make Your Friends Buy Fenders
That way your bike doesn’t look dorky, but you get the benefit of not having to drink or wear their road spray. As an added bonus, you’ll get to sit on the back of the ride and avoid pulling because no one will want to ride behind you. Use the $30 you saved on fenders for some nice white bar tape and bust it out the first week of summer sunshine.
Ride The Least Expensive Drivetrain
A friend expressed shock that I was riding my sweet carbon Kuota KOM in the rain instead of my IF Planet X cyclocross bike. “The Kuota’s plastic,” I said. Unlike the Planet X, a carbon bike isn’t going to rust. Sure the Planet X is supposedly an all weather bike with sealed water bottle braze-ons; it’s also steel and has a Sram Red drivetrain. When it comes to wear, it’s much less expensive to replace a workhorse Ultegra chain, bottom bracket and cassette than swanky super high end race stuff. Brush, clean and lube your drivetrain after every rainy ride.
Ride Your Square Tires
Hanging in the garage, we all have a set of tires that’s as square as Will Smith’s Fresh Prince haircut with a few cuts and divots in ‘em. Put ‘em back on. Sure they’re not going to have that new tire grip or match your bike, but why kill a set of new tires. Rain water picks up every spec of dirt and glass, sticks it to your tire, and turns a new set of skins into old ones in a week. Save the nice tires for a whenever this rain stops or August, whatever comes first.
Monkey Pick Your Brake Pads
You’ve seen the Monkey’s at the zoo picking fleas out of each other’s fur. Do the same with your brake pads. Sharpen a spoke and monkey pick the grit out of your brake pads after rainy rides. However, if you’ve been dying to get new wheels, but find it impossible to justify the expense, ride through every single puddle you can, then ride through a beach and slam on the brakes a few times. Then show your wife the concave braking surface on your wheels and tell her you’ll stop buying Cheetos at work for the next 2 years.