“Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
And these few precious days I'll spend with you
These precious days I'll spend with you”
-- September Song by Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson
Autumn is a brief but glorious period for cycling. The crisp air, the riot of color. The warm cider or cocoa after the ride. We all want to make the most of every minute of it before it fades away into the frost of winter. So, what do you need to know to enjoy the best autumn bike rides? We have a few tips to help you out.
The temperature can vary quite a bit in the fall – transitioning quickly from cool to warm to cool again throughout the day. To keep you comfortable throughout your ride, we recommend dressing in layers. For example, wearing a sweatshirt or light jacket (or both) over a t-shirt means you can shed layers as the day – and your body – warm up. Then just stow away the excess layers in a backpack or pannier bag until they’re needed again.
But it’s not all about sweatshirts and jackets. There are some other cool-weather items you may want to consider. A pair of gloves can feel like a lifesaver when brisk air runs over your hands. Similarly, a high-collared shirt, gator, or scarf can shield your neck from the breeze. And if you’re in a region where the autumn is *quite* chilly, you may even want to consider a base layer (like long underwear) under your pants…although you won’t be able to take those off mid-ride. There are rules about that, y’know.
Fall weather can often be quite damp, and with all those fallen leaves strewn about, that dampness tends to stick around a while. Therefore, investing in water-resistant or waterproof items for your bike ride is a great idea. In particular, waterproof shoes are great for preventing uncomfortably cold and soggy feet. Water-resistant cargo bags are also quite handy this time of year, especially if that’s where you’re keeping your extra warm layers. In general, keeping your body and clothing clean and dry will go a long way in keeping you comfortable.
Speaking of leaves – they can be a little treacherous. As we mentioned earlier, leaves tend to hold onto moisture, which can make them a bit slippery. Large piles of leaves can also hide things you really don’t want to ride over, like potholes, curbs, and other potentially injurious obstacles. Therefore, especially if you’re not super familiar with the terrain, use caution when riding through leaf-covered areas.
As we lose daylight hours in the autumn, odds are you’ll be riding in less than full-sun conditions. While that’s part of the season’s charm, it’s essential to make sure others can still see you in the fading light. Adding a set of lights to your bike is an easy way to improve your visibility. Most sets include a headlight and taillight, which helps you to see and helps others to see you simultaneously. Additionally, you may want to invest in a helmet with lights or other gear with reflective components. All of these items help you stay safe so you can enjoy your ride even more.
As always, it’s super important to make sure your bike is in good working order before every ride. However, in the fall, there’s another element to keep tabs on: leaves (again, we know). Make sure leaves, dirt, and other debris don’t gunk up your gears or get bound up in your brakes. There’s a lot of that flying around this time of year, so just make sure you keep an eye on it. A quick check and a little elbow grease now and then will ensure your bike continues to operate smoothly.
Check out our pre-ride checklist for more information.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to make the most of your autumn rides. Stay warm, stay safe, and don’t forget your helmet. We’ll see you at the hot chocolate stand. (Is that a thing? It should be.)