29“It’s a crash. That’s part of bike racing. It doesn’t make me lose morale or become upset.” Frank Schleck, Pro Cyclist, on sliding out on wet roads
With legs polished on the flint of the cobbles, it’s on to the other classics to power climb and position aggressively through the next phase of challenging one-days. The possibility of rain, sleet or snow may still characterize these races.
For some, rain offers showers of blessing. In the amateur ranks, often an early breakaway succeeds due to precipitation, since the pack may be unwilling to risk corners en masse. Often there’s a few who enjoy an advantage as fearless in any weather and capitalize on timidity or self-preservation of tentative competitors.
In an experienced field, there’s little difference in speed from dry days. Hesitancy seems to cause crashes more than slippery surfaces. In one wet memorable criterium championship, so many free laps were given for crashes, every rider on the podium had skipped multiple laps, and the entire peloton had gone down at one time or another. It became a game to slide into the wheel pit.
Some equipment precautions can ensure more comfortable rain riding, such as tire type and pressure, special brake pads, and fenders for commuters. Clothing choice is critical to staying warm even if soaked to the bone. A bigger challenge may be lack of visibility from rain above and splash, road debris, even grit from wheels ahead. Some prefer glasses treated with water repellant; others choose a cycling cap as the brim acts like a fender. Often it’s a matter of feel when temporarily unable to see ahead.
Successful rain riding is a mindset as well as a skill set. Textbook cornering in rain is to counter-steer on the inside with the widest line possible cutting a broad arc across the apex. In this way, no one slides you out because you take the inside line. For confidence on race day, utilize skill gained from ‘cross or slippery grass work and stay positive – turning what is just another challenging factor into a performance blessing.
Prayer for Rain Skills
“I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” 30Ezekiel 34:26
We are thankful for rain that makes things grow. We confess our spiritual drought from seeking eternal blessings. In this season, we wish the blessings of the rain and knowledge about how to enjoy it on a bike.
Ponder Have I practiced and refined those situations that make me uncomfortable? Affirm I learn to navigate gravity with less traction but more resistance. Watch and foster good morale in rainy and wet conditions.
29“Schleck OK after Crash,” Team CSC Highlights April 8, 2008 Team CSC Blog www.csc.com/ee/teamcsc
30The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society