Training Room: The Purpose of Rain Bags During a Cycling Event

We can never count on the weather being perfect every time we go out for a ride. How many times have you gotten rained on while cycling? Probably at least once, if not more, right? The same holds true for riders on the Tour. It’s a given that inclement weather will hit during the multi-day competition. Here’s an article about what the Tour riders do when the rains come.

All riders in the Tour have a rain bag. This is a bag that sits in the team car and everyone, especially the rider, hopes it never has to be opened. That said, I cannot recall a Tour when the rain bags stayed closed from Start to Finish. It is not so much “if” as it is “when”. So let’s say the dreaded day has come, meaning: it’s raining at the Tour. What exactly is in a typical rain bag?

First, the rain bag itself needs to be small enough to fit in the back of the team car with eight other rain bags. The bag also has to be easy to open, the bag contents must be easily accessible.

Now, here’s what happens at the Tour de France when the bag is called upon. The mechanics that are crammed in the back seat with bikes, wheels, coolers and, of course, rain bags now have to navigate like serpents to find each rider’s bag, open it and get out the necessary gear to keep the rider dry.

The bag itself usually contains the following:
1. Rain Jacket: Thin, waterproof, traditionally clear for continued identification of the rider’s jersey and number (recently teams think it’s cool to change the color of the rain jackets to better identify their athletes in the group).
2. Rain Glasses and Cycling Cap: Glasses are usually clear or tinted slightly yellow to allow riders better visibility in the dark, rainy clouds; also keeps water out of the eyes. The cap is a lifesaver for the face and eyes in hard rain. When flipped down, the bill does a wonderful job of shielding the face not only from rain from above, but also rain from the spray off riders ahead in the peloton. Rain usually spells a decrease in temperature as well and the cap provides a layer of warmth to the head.
3. Long-Fingered Gloves, Shoe Covers, Arm/Knee Warmers: These are sometimes included as they are pretty difficult to put on while riding. You would be surprised though at just how quickly these guys can get all that gear on while traveling over 25mph!

Hopefully the stuff in a rider’s rain bag will keep him dry and warm, as well as maintain good visibility while the rain comes down. This is really the key to a good rain bag! The trick is getting the gear on quickly and safely. Don’t forget, the cyclists are putting this stuff on while traveling on two wheels over wet, slick roads. It does add a bit of tension to the process!

Rain is inevitable during the Tour. Having a well organized, well stocked rain bag–and the experience to put on the gear while riding–is something all Tour riders learn very quickly in their careers.

Mother Nature stops for nobody. But cycling is a sport that won’t stop for her either.

Ciao~
Robbie

*Note: italicized text reprinted from versus.com

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