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