Fancy some autumn cycling tips?
Autumn is a great time to be out and about on your bike: whether it’s commuting to and from work, or just for a leisurely cycle ride. The air is cool and fresh, and you get to enjoy the autumnal landscape in all of it’s glory. Right now the sun is still (mostly!) shining and the leaves are still on the trees, but without wanting to be a harbinger of doom, sadly it won’t be long before the nights really start drawing in, the temperatures tumble and we’re awash in a sea of fallen leaves.
You don’t have to put your bike away in your shed or garage for the season though: I’m here with some handy autumn cycling hints to keep you cycling right through autumn and beyond!
Autumn Cycling Tips
The first of my autumn cycling tips is the most important. Good lights are the most essential things you can carry with you. Even if you aren’t planning on cycling after dark, dark mornings and shorter days can catch you out if you’re not careful. As well as being incredibly dangerous, in the UK it’s illegal to cycle without lights in the dark. You can get a £30 fixed penalty fine for even missing just one light. So always carry some front and rear lights with you just in case. It’s also worth carrying a spare set of lights and a set of batteries too, just in case your batteries run out, or you lose a light.
It doesn’t matter if your lights flash or shine a steady beam – the law was changed in 2005 to allow for flashing lights – just as long as you have them. If you’re going to be cycling in an area with poor street light provision then you will also need a bright fixed beam front light to light your way. Your local bike shop can advise on the best light for you and your budget.
Lastly, make sure all of your reflectors are in place too, including your back reflector, and your wheel and pedal reflectors. It’s important to be seen by motorists and every little helps.
I am a strong proponent of fitting front and rear mudguards to your bike for any kind of road or pathway cycling. Even if it hasn’t been raining, damp roads and paths can still throw up a lot of mud and water. Mudguards will protect you from a mud splattered face (never a good look if you’re on your way to work or into town to meet friends!) as well as from a not particularly sexy big brown stripe up your back.
It goes without saying that fallen leaves are synonymous with autumn. There’s really no avoiding them – you just have to learn to deal with them. Piles of fallen leaves on the road or cycle path can look innocuous enough, but can actually be hiding a whole host of nasties, such as dog poo, or at the very worst, a large pot hole. If you maintain a good road position, about one metre out from the kerb, then hopefully you should avoid most of the piles of fallen leaves.
On the off chance that you do come across any then the best advice is if in doubt, move out to avoid the hazard. Look behind you first to be sure it’s safe to do so, and signal before maneuvering so that motorists and other cyclists know your intentions.
If they’re wet then fallen leaves can also be slippery under your tyres. The best way to avoid slipping on wet leaves is to keep a steady pace and not make any sudden movements. So where possible avoid accelerating, braking or making any sudden turns on wet leaves. Brake before you reach the leaves, and ease up on the brakes as you cycle over them. If you are executing a turn, the key is to do is slowly without braking.
Cold weather can make dressing for a bike ride or commute difficult. One of my top autumn cycling tips is to layer up. Instead of wearing one big jacket or jumper, it’s better to add or remove layers as you warm up or cool down. A good starting point is to dress so that you feel the cold for the first 10 minutes of your cycle. If you are warm and cosy before setting of on a ride then chances are within 10 minutes you’ll be a hot and sweaty mess! However, if you start off cold then there’s a high chance that within 10 minutes you’ll be at a good temperature.
There you have it: my top autumn cycling tips! What are yours? Leave them in the comments below!
Happy autumnal cycling! And while you’re here, you may also like this post from the archives about ladies stylish cycling accessories.