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How to skate in the Rain



Skating in the wet can be much harder than skating on dry tarmac, it's often not felt to be as pleasant as skating on beautiful dry road, and it can muck up your bearings. These reasons often keep many people from skating in the rain, but those who don't skate in the rain are missing a lot of fun!

There are numerous things you can do to help make things easier and safer:
Technique
Higher cadence

Having a higher cadence will help to get more power pulses to the ground more often, and that's pretty important when you can't push as hard because the ground is more slippery.
Shorter strides

Shorter strides will also limit peak forces on your skates, but of course this limits your speed. Those big gorilla sized pushes you can do in the dry will almost certainly cause you to slip in wet conditions.

Additionally shorter strides and higher cadences make sure that your recovering skate is quickly back under your centreline where it can catch your weight if your pushing skate should slip. It's all about staying balanced, centred, and self-sufficient.
Spread the power

Try to make each push have a more gradual power application. A good dry skating stride has most of the power in each push happen at the end of every stride since that's the most effective and efficient place for it to be. That doesn't work so well in the wet because having peak forces in any one place in your stride makes it much more likely that available traction will be exceeded.

It's much better to try and spread the power - push more smoothly and try to keep the power constant over much of the stride.

Another way to do this is to think of pushing down through your skates, not out.
Be smooth

Keep your skating smooth and flowing, again this attempts to reduce the high force peaks your skates would otherwise have when skating in the dry.
Keep your skates vertical

Try to keep your frames/wheels as vertical as possible as this will improve traction and let you skate just that teeny bit faster than everyone else. This applies whether you're skating straight ahead or crossing over or turning. Of course this means you'll have non-ideal supination (and sometimes pronation if crossing over), but the net gain is more power to the pavement.
What about the double push?

Since the double push was evolved in the Netherlands as a rain skating technique, it's excellent for this use. You do need to be a very smooth and confident double push skater since there is a pitfall to the benefits you get whilst double-pushing.

That pitfall is that should you lose traction on an underpush, the chances are you will crash out because your recovery leg is behind you and crossed slightly with the underpushing leg. That makes it pretty difficult to catch your weight on the other skate, unlike with the crossover underpush.

Smooth double pushing is great for rain skating:

* You spend much less time gliding and more time putting power to the pavement.
* You get two smaller power pulses with each stride, one from the underpush and one from the normal push, instead of one big power pulse as with classic skating technique. That's good for limiting peak forces and not slipping out in the rain.
* Having two power pulses also effectively increases your cadence and lets you have shorter strides, again reducing peak forces.


Be careful!

Always be very respectful of conditions when skating in the wet. You won't be able to turn as sharply, stop as quickly, or go as fast, so pay extra attention and plan ahead much more than you normally would. These can cause you to fall, or to crash, and we don't want that to happen to anyone. Lastly, make sure you're skating within your own limits and if in doubt take it slow.
Equipment
Wheel hardness and type

Hard wheels can be a real no-no in the wet since they often lose a lot of traction. Generally speaking, softer wheels will have more grip in the wet.

Also be careful of wheel brand. Some wheels have mega grip in the rain, and some feel like skating on ice, except wearing your inlines rather than ice skates. The only way you'll know is by testing wheels and learning how each wheel hardness and type works for you.
New wheels

Brand new wheels are a big no-no in the wet because they have much reduced traction. Make sure that you're using wheels that at least have the smooth shiny surface worn off through previous skating.

One of our team members really suffered in the Berlin marathon this year through choosing new unworn wheels, and lost perhaps 2-3 minutes because he couldn't get much traction at all in the first and wettest section of the race.
Bearings - Greased versus Oiled

Greased bearings are much better at dealing with water than oiled ones are, even if they have fractionally higher rolling resistance. You generally have to clean and re-lubricate oiled bearings after skating in the rain, yet with good greased/gel bearings such as Twincam ILQ9s, you can often skate for months with repeated rain use with minimal trouble. The bearings might be a little crunchy the next day, but skate a couple of miles and they'll be spinning well again.
Maintenance afterwards

I regularly see people being advised to spray their bearings with something like WD40 after skating in the rain. To me this is a big no-no because the WD40 might be great at displacing water and preventing rust, but it's no good in this situation because most of the grease is there in the bearing doing nothing, apart from holding onto grit that has entered the bearing. Only a tiny amount will actually be lubricating the balls and bearing races. Spraying WD40 in there will wash away some or all of the grease, it will release all the trapped grit allowing much of it to enter into the balls and races.

Of course there's an exception to not using WD40. If you use oiled bearings, then it's a great idea to spray with WD40, it'll protect the bearings and help to prevent the parts from rusting, keeping them safe until you clean them.

If you're going to clean your bearings after skating in the rain, then do it properly and clean them completely! See here using an Ultrasonic cleaner to clean skate bearings

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