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Jeff Symonds on Racing in the Rain

With Ironman Canada right around the corner, people have been obsessively checking the forecast in Whistler. If you haven’t been checking, I hate to rain on your parade, but it looks like we are in for some wet, cold racing. However, the weather can change in an instant in Whistler and the forecast for race day has been changing hourly. But just in case, here are some of my tips for wet-weather racing.

The Cyclist Perrig Quemeneur

  1. Take the descents easy. Take my advice, you can crash and run a good marathon, but the recovery afterwards is brutal!
  2. Run a little lower tire pressure. Around 100-110 psi is good.
  3. Pump your brakes before sketchy sections to dry the pads off for better performance. For carbon rims, there are claims that some brake pads work better than others, but I just stick with Shimano.
  4. Metal breaking surfaces work better in wet conditions then a carbon surface so if you are really worried, opt for your training wheels versus racing wheels.
  5. Stay off the white line as much as possible as the paint tends to be slick. For the Whistler course, and most other courses in general, the middle of the road is in far better condition than the shoulder, so try and stay off the shoulder as much as possible.
  6. Avoid puddles at all costs…but make sure you keep your competitors safe so point them out and signal that you are swerving out of your line. You never know what is going to be at the bottom of those puddles especially on a mountain road.
  7. Don’t forget to drink! So many people forget to eat or drink during cooler races because they don’t get thirsty as quickly and messing around with your nutrition plan is always a game changer…for the worse. So stick to your plan regardless of the temperature.
  8. A rainy run can make for some soggy clothes, which can make for some nasty chafing or blisters. I go sock-less during the run but for those (most) people who like to wear socks, some people will keep a dry pair (put them in a Ziploc bag) in their run special needs. Also for both the run and the bike, avoid wearing loose fitting clothing. On the bike it will flap around and get in the way and on the run it will get very heavy and cause some serious chafing. Opt for a tight fitting base layer underneath your race suit if you are worried about the cold.
  9. Forget about your pre-race goals! Yes we’ve all been training for this for months and in some cases, years, and we’ve all envisioned it as a beautifully sunny day in the mid 20’s (Celsius) with no wind. But if race day rolls around and the weather is less than ideal, forget about your time goals and just get out there for the experience. It will be epic! And in years to come people will say, “Oh yeah that year the weather was brutal! That is so amazing that you were able to do it!”
  10. Practice, Practice, Practice. Riding in the rain is awful and not a lot of fun for training rides but if you do it enough, you will be stoked when a wet, rainy, race day rolls around.

Lastly, don’t forget that everyone is facing the same weather and same difficulties as you. So no matter how cold or wet it is, just take your time, be safe and try to enjoy the moment!