Biking in the rain? Have a game plan

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The rains expected for the Los Angeles region this Saturday will create hazards for drivers, and for bikers, too. But the rains don't have to interrupt your cycling if you follow some tips from the experts.

Nona Varnado, the founder of L.A. Bike Trains, organizes group rides – no matter the conditions. She answers the question: does anyone deliberately ride in the rain?

"Absolutely. It’s sometimes fun," she said.

She points out that people the world over bike every day, weather be damned. Take Portland and Seattle, she adds: "Those guys are pretty serious." 

The rains forecast for Saturday are part of the typical winter storms that come from the north. But if El Niño bears out, a lot more rain is on the horizon.

Varnado said it does help to have a game plan:

• Know your public transit options if you need a break.

• Wear a baseball cap under your helmet to keep drops out of your eyes and keep your hair dry, if you don’t have specialty rain gear.

• Don't leave your helmet outside in the rain with your bike.

• In a pinch,  she said: "there’s nothing like a plastic bag." You can use them on your shoes to keep feet dry or around electronics like laptops you might be carrying with you.

• Brake earlier and more slowly. Just like in cars, tire traction is reduced on wet pavement.

• Avoid turning at the same time that you break since doing so can cause skidding.

• Avoid puddles, which could hide tire-flattening potholes.

• Make sure your bike is equipped with a front headlight and a rear reflector.

Varnado says she is always available on Twitter @Nonavarnado to offer biking tips, rain-related or not. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation also has more tips on riding in the rain on its bike blog page


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