Cycling is the second most popular exercise habit among my clients; running is the most popular. However, cycling is the one people give up on the most easily.
Simply because of the rain.
Rain sounds as if it shouldn’t be a big deal; some people ride in the rain, but many others don’t. It’s a bigger issue for some people than is at first apparent. It’s worth looking more closely at what is at stake.
Chances are you have a busy schedule, and if you don’t cycle now (or whenever you planned it), you don’t have a backup time slot. The consequence is that your exercise routine will be interrupted – first just as a once-off, then a second time, and so on. The exercise habit you have started with so much will-power, can wash away with the rain.
So the problem with rain, or any kind of bad weather, is that it kills your consistency.
And after cycling for 25+ years also in the rain, I can still feel “Oh, gosh, I don’t like to ride in the rain. Let’s not bike it”.
How to deal with cycling in the rain?
The good news is, that it’s actually much easier than people think. I live a car-free life, therefore I ride my bike for all of these three main occasions: commuting, touring, and sport. A few days ago I cycled home from Graz, about 35km, and got caught in a heavy shower. I waited a few minutes for the heaviest part to pass, then put on my jacket, and continued.
My own experience is that cycling in the rain is really not that a big a deal.
These three easy steps really helped me:
1. Be prepared:
Different occasions need different preparation.
a) Commuting / up to 30 min: I have a set of dry clothes in my bag. I change upon arrival.
b) Sports / up to 1-2h: Light, quick-to-dry clothing. I don’t really care, when I get home, I take a shower and change clothes anyway.
c) Touring / 2h and longer: I have clothes against the rain: cap, jacket, gloves, glasses; better to have trousers, strong shoes. The most important are glasses (to see) and gloves (against the cold).
2. Jump right into it.
When I’m inside my warm apartment, and watch the wet streets and listen to the rain on the roof, my motivation gets lower and lower. If I spend enough time contemplating how badly I’m going to feel to cycle in the rain, I end up with almost zero motivation. Instead I decide not to care much about it, I just grab my clothes, and go. And I usually discover that it is not that bad as I thought.
3. Commit to go by bike “no matter what”.
I noticed I have a subtle and unspoken pre-condition: “Of course, I only cycle when the weather is nice……….” It’s not that helpful. However, when I intentionally commit to go by bike, irrespective of the weather, my success rate increases tremendously. Of course, it has some consequences: I bought fenders, flaps, gloves, glasses, and I accepted that I have a bit more to carry such as dry clothes, or protective clothes.
In my experience, the most important factor of these three is the last one, commitment. Do you hear that inner voice saying….. “`Yes, others can do it,…………but me.? I can’t cycle in the rain.”?
What is the pay-off for developing the ability to cycle in rain?
With consistency you double your possibility of success in maintaining your exercise habit. During all the time I have been biking, what I discovered that spending time and energy to implement changes that allowed me to keep my exercise schedule was so worth for me.
Consistency is the single-most important factor when building an exercise habit – Especially at the beginning, when you are in the habit development phase. Later on, it gets easier, as I noticed that the more I ride the bike in the rain, the less I care about the downside, as building consistency for long term success matters so much more vs. the momentary discomfort.
Experiment with this new attitude.
Picture yourself cycling in the rain, with a smile on your face, having fun, and thinking about how heroic you are. – You’re the guy ( or the woman!) who cycles in the rain. Then go and do it – see for yourself how it feels. Good job!
Article updated: 07 Aug 2014