Rapha's Guide to Staying Dry - Tour of Cambridgeshire

Rapha’s Guide to Staying Dry

Preparation is the best solution to riding in the rain. Whether it’s lightweight packable layers for tropical climates or thermal waterproof garments for a freezing downpour. Follow our guide to cover up for whatever the weather can muster.

Take a jacket

It might sound obvious but taking a waterproof jacket is crucial on cold, wet rides. If it’s not raining when you set off, stow your jacket in a jersey pocket. None of the other layers you’re wearing will be any use if you caught short in a rainstorm. 

When riding in consistently cold and wet conditions, an insulated waterproof jacket will help you stay warm and dry. In milder more changeable weather, a lightweight jacket that can be removed and stowed in a jersey pocket is advisable. 

We recommend jackets with a double zip to allow easy access to jersey pockets without the need to remove the jacket entirely. When wearing winter gloves, we also recommend putting these on before your jacket to help form a watertight seal between glove and jacket sleeve.

Keep your core warm

Once you’re wet, your body temperature can fall rapidly. Keeping your core warm is particularly important as bloody flowing to and from the heart helps to keep the rest of your body warm. 

Wearing a jacket helps to keep the entire upper half of your body warm but even a gilet, especially when warm with arm warmers, can help to significantly reduce the risk of cooling off. Always take a packable outer layer with you, stowing it in a pocket until needed.

Though modern jackets and gilets are highly breathable, there’s always a compromise. To avoid any chilling effect caused by sweat, we recommend wearing a base layer. Merino wool base layers are particularly versatile, providing effective thermoregulation in a wide range of conditions.

Spin your legs

You might feel the cold more elsewhere, but it’s crucial to keep your legs protected. Consider winter tights with waterproof or water-repellent fabrics placed on leading edges, and more breathable fabrics positioned on trailing edges. 

This dual fabric design wards off the worst the rain and roadspray whilst allowing excess heat and moisture to escape. Freedom of movement is also maintained so that your winter bibs don’t feel too far removed from those you wear in the summer months.

Considerations in warm weather

In terms of clothing selection, riding in cold, wet conditions can be simpler. You simply wrap up before setting off and stay as warm and dry as possible. On wet days when the temperature is a little warmer, staying comfortable often involves adapting to the conditions.

Waterproofing

If nothing else, a waterproof jacket is essential. Even when it’s warm, a sudden rain shower can lower your body temperature rapidly. Always take a waterproof jacket, and pick a packable model so that you can fold it down into a jersey pocket. 

Alternatively, a gilet and arm warmers work very well together in warm but wet conditions. Both can be removed and stowed quickly and easily, allowing you to adapt to the conditions in changeable weather.

Breathability

On warmer days, breathability becomes even more important. As your body sweats to dissipate heat, it’s important that your waterproof clothing is breathable enough to allow this excess heat and moisture to escape. 

We recommend selecting jackets made with highly breathable fabrics, or a water-repellent jacket whose DWR coating will keep the worst of the weather off without being completely waterproof

Temperature Regulation

Riding hard in the rain can leave you clammy and lead to discomfort. Unlike in deep winter conditions, it’s important to remember that adding or removing layers during your ride can help to keep you comfortable, especially on longer rides. Don’t wait until it rains to put your jacket on and, equally, don’t wait until you’ve overheated to remove those outer layers

What to wear

Base Layer

A good base layer is the foundation of any ride, particularly in wet conditions. We recommend varying the thickness and weight of your base layer in accordance with the temperature.

Waterproof Jacket

The cornerstone of your outfit in wet conditions is your waterproof jacket. For maximum comfort, select a jacket that is completely waterproof but also highly breathable.

Rain Gilet

For riding in changeable weather, you might swap a jacket for a gilet for a little extra freedom of movement and some additional space in your jersey pockets. Pair with arm warmers for excellent adaptability in changeable weather.

Gloves

Hands are often the first part of the body to cool off in wet conditions. Always pack a pair of warm gloves and put your jacket on over the top for a watertight seal at the cuffs.

Overshoes

Cold feet is also a common issue in wet weather. To mitigate this, a pair of water-repellent overshoes is recommended. Many feature reflective panels to improve visibility in low light.

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