Riding in the rain is something that we need to be good at here in NZ, otherwise we wouldn’t ride on many occasions! Don’t be scared of riding when it’s wet; you just have to be prepared.
If it’s fine and not cold when you start out, but you think it might rain, pack a light but waterproof shower jacket. You can get these for not very much money at the bike shop or online. Mostly these are made of non-breathable material like nylon but that’s fine as they are for emergencies only. Make sure you get a bright colour, don’t get black! So long as you have appropriate clothing underneath your jacket (thermals, arm warmers), then you’ll already have some heat in your body when it rains. A nylon jacket won’t keep you warm.
If it’s raining at the start of your ride you need to begin with sturdier rain-resistant clothing otherwise you’ll just get wet straight away and not warm up. There are many good options available, but they will cost money as they will be made of Gortex or a similar fabric. It’s well worth buying one of these though, and if you look after it it will last many years. In this situation you might like to protect your shoes with some shoe covers as well. Woollen socks are a good option as they keep your feet warm even if they get wet. Especially important in winter. Again, you should have already dressed in your thermals, warmers on your arms and maybe even your legs.
Another useful tip when riding in the rain is to wear a cycling cap under your helmet. That helps shield your eyes from some of the falling rain. It can also help keep your head a little warmer too.
Remember, if you get wet you can get cold, especially if you’re just starting your ride, intensity is low, or the air temperature drops dramatically. Sometimes the latter can occur here in NZ if a southerly hits, and that can be dangerous.
Lastly, one of the best things you can do for for wet weather riding is to have some mud-guards. A rear guard is especially useful as it stops your back side getting wet. Makes it much easier for your riding companions to sit on your wheel as well! You can buy clip on/off guards from your bike shop or online that fit most racing bikes.
Good riding, Steve S.