11 tips for Cycling in the rain: advice from experienced Slovenian cyclists
Will it rain on our bicycle tours? Maybe. Are we going to cycle anyway? Most probably we will. Whether you’ll enjoy it, or the rain will spoil the experience, it is up to you 🙂
Proper preparation transforms rainy rides into exhilarating adventures, elevating your cycling skills and confidence. Skipping the outdoor ride during a downpour might disrupt your training rhythm. Instead, gear up for the challenge and enhance your rainy-day rides. Adopt these essential tips for a safe and successful bike trip, ensuring both you and your bike are rain-ready.
Dive into our tips for cycling in the rain curated by expert tour guides and let the drizzles redefine your cycling experience.
#01 Follow the weather forecast
Like if mountain climbing or sailing, it is wise to monitor the weather forecast not only for a few hours but two or three days ahead. It is very likely that each of you has a weather app installed on your smartphone that will also cover Slovenia, while all our guests also get an app with links to the general weather forecast in each of the destinations on the cycling route.
In the event of possible extreme weather forecasts, we also provide real-time warnings to all guests on the bike tour via the same mobile app. For everyone on a self-guided tour, following the forecast is very important, while on guided tours weather monitoring (and possibly ordering a honey schnapps at the destination) will be taken care of by our experienced local guide.
Here’s a very useful website – the rainfall radar animation is useful to observe where the rain is spreading from. Similar, even better rainfall animations are also offered by the Windy application (recommended).
#02 Look up! And listen to the locals
In the era of smart pocket weather forecasts, people sometimes overlook very clear hints that something is happening with the weather: mountain peaks in clouds, a sudden change in wind strength, darker clouds (in the western part of Slovenia, rain clouds usually, but not necessarily, come from western directions). We will not write about the clouds on the top of which mountain almost certainly mean rain and what kind of wind the locals call the ‘peeing wind’. But yes, a local person, for example, the caretaker of a mountain hut, CAN be smarter than your smartphone.
#03 Take advantage of the ‘dry window’ opportunity
Based on the information from the previous two points, find the time of day when there will be no rain, or it will be more moderate. It is very rare that it rains continuously all day, so take advantage of this ‘dry window’ and during this time cycle as long as possible without stopping at tourist attractions, lunches, etc. You can use the time when you are waiting for departure or after arriving at your destination early to visit the WWI museum in Kobarid, go wine-tasting in Goriška Brda, relax in the pool or sauna in Thermana Laško, or simply rest.
#04 Stay dry (and warm!)
You know what they say: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. That’s why mandatory equipment on the bike throughout the whole cycling tour is a waterproof jacket that covers the upper body. YES, even on a hot summer day, and NO, it’s not useful in the suitcase at the hotel!
The hood, if you have one, will probably need to be placed under the helmet or the water will run down your neck. In practice, it turns out that affordable jackets from some sports equipment supermarkets (like Decathlon) are just fine. In case of prolonged rain and lower temperatures, you will also appreciate waterproof trousers and/or gloves. Some also use outer socks, which are put over the shoes. Be aware that when cycling, water can also come from the underside (if the bikes do not have mudguards – e.g. mountain bikes). Sometimes it is possible to improvise: if you make holes for the head and hands in the garbage bag, the thing can be quite effective. It’s important that you stay warm, therefore, an additional layer of warm clothing under the rain gear will also come in handy.
Important: In our agency, we rent bicycles, helmets, some bags, navigation equipment, and more, but you will have to take care of rain jackets yourself. Don’t expect the guide to lend it to you because he/she needs it for him/herself 🙂
#05 Keep your equipment dry
A very cheap solution: wrap things that should not get wet (phone, wallet, spare clothes, food) in an additional bag, in case of emergency the one for fruit. Even waterproof bags/backpacks are not miraculous.
#06 Pay attention to what’s under the tires
The most dangerous is the first rain after a long dry period. That’s when there’s the most dirt on the road, including oil, and that’s when it really gets slippery. Pay attention when riding over old cobblestones (for example when descending from Vršič mountain pass or in the city centers), painted parts of roads (crosswalks), low curbs (between the bike path and the sidewalk), wet wood (MTB riders, you’ve learned that, right).
On a bike, especially a road bike, the rear tire loses grip faster, while it will be more difficult to solve the skid of the first tire in the rain. In short: adapt the speed of cycling and performing other maneuvers to the conditions. Better late in the hotel than fast in the hospital.
#07 Stay visible
The rain jacket should be of a visible color (yellow, fluorescent, white) and never black. Also, turn on your front and rear lights so that you can be seen by other drivers.
#08 Wait for the worst under the roof
While cycling can be quite pleasant in light rain, in a storm it pays to wait somewhere dry; maybe under the roof of the bus station, even better in a restaurant while slurping hot homemade mushroom soup.
Summer storms or heavy downpours in Slovenia usually last no longer than half an hour, an hour at the most. Also, keep in mind that road problems can happen after extreme weather. For guests on our guided and self-guided tours, we check this as quickly as possible and inform all cyclists along the way. If needed, see next tip No. 9.
#09 Explore alternatives
Depending on the weather forecast, choose a shorter/faster route already in the morning. That’s why our tours have different route options (usually CLASSIC and HARD, or CLASSIC and EASIER). This is especially important for our MTB tours because you don’t want to wait out the storm somewhere high in the mountains and then go down on a muddy track.
If the forecast is very bad or there is someone in the group who is afraid of rain or does not have suitable equipment, they should put their bike on the train or bus, in the worst case the locals will help you with transportation.
#10 Dry wet equipment
Ask for a dryer at the hotel at the destination. Believe us, they’d rather help you than let you run a hair dryer for hours while drying your socks in your room. This is dangerous and wastes energy.
#11 Keep your spirits up
You simply cannot learn this from articles like this. People are different and sensitive to natural phenomena in different ways. Basically, if you follow the rest of the tips in this article, cycling in the rain isn’t that bad. Keep in mind the dinner that awaits you at your destination, perhaps a shot of homemade schnapps might help to prevent the cold. Different situations (not only rain but also heat, wind, flat tires, …) make up a colorful mosaic of a cycling adventure.
We can provide well-maintained bikes and excellent guides, but unfortunately, we have no influence on the weather.
When we at the Visit GoodPlace agency plan guided and self-guided cycling tours in Slovenia and the surrounding countries, we try to find dates that would spare guests numb fingers from the cold (when crossing the Julian Alps on the Trans Slovenia 01 MTB tour in April, for example) or the worst heat (if riding the Istria Gourmet Cycling Route in the middle of the summer).