Cycling in the Autumn can be a very special time. You have the benefit of your summer fitness and we are sometimes treated to some glorious weather conditions. This all adds up to be a fantastic opportunity to clock up some high quality miles.
The different seasons bring different delights of the countryside around us. Autumn in England is famed for mellow colours, the first woodsmoke coming from little cottages and gentle soft sunshine. A time of year when leaves lose their summer greenery and treat us to an infinite range of reds, oranges and yellows. A time of year when some people lament the passing of a lovely summer and shortening daylight. Others revel in the changing seasons of the year and life as a whole.
Clothing and staying the right temperature
In mid October, temperatures here in Southern England can range from about 5C to 20C, all in the space of a few hours. With that range layering clothes is probably the best option and cycle clothing caters for this with numerous base layers, jerseys and jackets to choose from.
Added to that arm warmers and leg warmers are worthwhile as well. These are often made from Lycra and you won’t look aout of place wearing these on a bike. Then when the temperature rises, they are easy to take off and slip into a pocket or saddle bag.
Autumn is also the time of year when gloves might start to be worn, especially in the early mornings.
Shorts are certainly an option, especially for warmer days and also three quarter length tights are fine too. Don’t go anywhere without a waterproof jacket of some kind. Even if it doesn’t rain, misty conditions can be surprisingly cold at times and an extra layer can make all the difference in staying warm or thoroughly chilled.
Making sure your bike is okay
After many miles during the summer months, it’s always worth looking over your bicycle before a ride, just to make sure all is well. It takes no more than one minute to check the tyres are sufficiently hard and spin the wheels to make sure there’s nothing rubbing against mudguards or the brake blocks. With the brakes in mind, try pushing the bike forward to check the front rake works sufficiently. Squeeze the rear brake lever and try pulling the bike backwards to make sure they’re still effective.
As with all rides, make sure you have a minimum repair kit. I recommend a spare inner tube, one or two tyre levers, a pump, a multi tool and a mobile phone. The multi tool should have allen keys for your bike – normally 4, 5 and 6mm. Posh ones have chain rivet extractors, screw drivers and kitchen sinks.
You might want to consider having working lights on your bike, even if you don’t intend to be out after sunset. Even if you don’t get delayed, some days can be grey, dull and having a flashing rear light is a wise move.
Sometimes there are patches of leaves around: these can be slippery, slimy and could easily thrown you off. Wet “manhole” covers are also hazardous.
Enjoy at least three great rides this Autumn. Make yourself a promise you’ll find a way to have three memorable rides when everything goes well – do this before 1st December. Making that effort can bring real rewards of unforgettable rides which you can cherish through the worst of the winter months when cycling isn’t so easy.