Saying that us bikers in Wales have some personal experience of riding in the rain is probably an understatement! Just when we thought April would start to bring us brighter, drier weather, we're treated to a bit more rain.
Nevertheless, for those new to riding or if you’ve been used to only riding your pride and joy when it’s dry, a few hints and tips will hopefully offer a reminder of how to ride safely when the roads are wet.
Try to wear proper rain gear - it may need to be one or two sizes larger than you normally wear so that it fits over your normal PPE. Bikers can be even harder to see in the rain, so we should ideally make ourselves as visible as possible - hi-vis rain gear can be a good option.
Before leaving home, remember to check that your bike is safe to ride. Traction is greatly reduced in the rain so it’s especially important that our tyres are undamaged, inflated to the correct pressure and with good tread depth. Working lights are essential, so double check that no bulbs have blown since your last ride.
It may seem obvious, but ride as smoothly as possible with careful, progressive use of the brakes and throttle. Always reduce your speed in the rain and keep a safe extended following distance - at least double the distance you allow in dry conditions. Remember, when visibility is low it becomes even more important that we can stop in the distance we can see to be clear.
Choose your lane position to avoid large amounts of surface water; look for dry tracks made by vehicles in front of you as these sections could allow greater grip for your tyres. Avoid puddles wherever possible - they may be hiding a pothole!
If they really can’t be avoided safely, take slippery spots such painted lines and manhole covers as straight on as possible. A rainbow patch on the road surface is one of our worst nightmares as bikers - it could be oil mixed with rainwater, so early observations could allow us to plan our position to avoid them.
If all of this seems concerning, please don't worry - by thinking ahead, we are anticipating these challenging scenarios so that we know what to do and to minimise anything going wrong. Being tense on our bike could affect our control and put us at greater risk; stay relaxed and if the weather really becomes too bad we can always pull over.
Rain or shine, try to make each ride smooth, relaxed and confident. Look well ahead and enjoy the experience, even if you’re a bit soggy around the edges!