In many ways, autumn is the best time of the year to cycle. It’s still warm, but the muggy air of late summer is now crisp and dry. The cycle paths and multi use trails are slowly emptying out and those of us who are hard core cyclists will soon have them all to ourselves, save for the occasional hard core runner.
This is all good, but there are also challenges to riding in the fall…especially if you use a bicycle for transportation. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll minimize any surprises along the road and enjoy all that the season has to offer. Here are some things to consider before heading out.
Autumn is a season of change and that means things can be dramatically different when you head home from when you left earlier in the day. Dress accordingly. Layers are best. That way you can adjust as the temperature soars and plummets. Consider a pair of arm warmers and be sure to carry a pair of light gloves. Both will fit easily into a pack and can be added or removed with minimal inconvenience.
The season is called fall for a reason and those leaves and the small branches that tend to look so pretty from your car can be a real road hazard when you’re on two skinny tires. Layers of wet, matted leaves have the consistency of a hockey rink. Small sticks can create havoc if they get caught in your spokes. Slow down and make sure your speed is appropriate for conditions.
I try to get a long ride in every afternoon and I’ve noticed how quickly nightfall is coming on as September rolls into October. It’s a real push now to get my ride in before the sun sets. The same is true in the morning. Being seen is always a problem for cyclists, but no time more so than in autumn. Make sure to wear bright colors made of materials like illumiNITE, load up on reflective tape and outfit your bicycle with multiple lights, both front and back. Consider wearing lights on your body and helmet as well as mounting them to your bike. New LED technologies give you lots of choices.
A Final Thought
If you’re serious about using a bicycle for transportation, there’s no reason to stop riding when the days grow shorter and the season’s chill returns. If you’ve never ridden during this time of year before, you’re missing out. Life is good. It’s even better on a bicycle…so find your bike, saddle up and keep on riding as the calendar turns!