Change of seasons, change of habits
It is the season of transition that can often frustrate cyclists - and perhaps cause them to abandon their bikes altogether until the summer sun returns. However, with a few changes you can cycle well into the autumn season. The key is knowing what changes to adopt in your clothing, accessories and bike gear. Read on to learn how to transition to fall cycling.
Change your Clothing
Cycling during the fall (and early spring) is all about the addition of lightweight, removable pieces. During the seasons you may start a ride feeling frigid, but end quite warm. Or the exact opposite. Adding accessories to the cycling wardrobe you already have will last you all the way through late fall.
If you're not interested in purchases a long sleeve jersey, simply add arm warmers with your short sleeve one. Not only is this more cost effective, but it also allows you to ditch them if the weather warms up while riding. If paired with a vest, arm warmers can have an almost jacket like effect.
When the temperature drops, one of the first things to get cold is your knees. You won't need full leg warmers until later in the season, but knee warmers add just the perfect amount of warmth during that transitional time. Your knees take the brunt of the wind while you're riding, so be sure to protect them.
Once again, in early to mid fall we prefer just toe covers as opposed to full shoe covers. These will keep the wind from biting at your toes, while preventing overcooking your feet. Toe covers are almost imperceptible, but can make a large impact on your comfort.
When it's still a little warm for a full jacket, a vest is the perfect addition to your wardrobe. A vest will protect your chest from the wind, but also prevent you from overheating. When starting out on a chilly morning ride you will have that vest zipped all the way up, but as the weather warms you can easily unzip then shed it.
Fall weather can be unpredictable, so it is wise to carry a pocket sized rain jacket just in case. You never know when a rainstorm may hit, so it's worth always carrying with you.
Clear riding glasses
Just because the sun isn't blazing doesn't mean you can abandon eye protection. Swap your current glasses for a pair with clear lenses.
Change your Bike Accessories
When transitioning to fall riding, there are a few bike accessories that you will want to add to your ride.
Fenders are your best friend when it comes to wet, fall riding. Fenders keep not only you clean(er) and dry, but they can also help prevent a lot of spray from hitting those riding near you.
As the days grow shorter, you will need good lighting both to see and be seen. You need a bright light to illuminate the road in front of you, as well as a blinking red light behind to alert motorists of your presence.
As road conditions become dicey with rain, puddles, falling leaves and frost, you will want to opt for a wider tire with better traction. These wider tires will allow you to run slightly lower pressure to increase your grip on questionable surfaces.
Change your Nutrition
If it's cold, you may not be as inclined to hydrate. However, your hydration and nutrition is just as important in cooler temperatures. If you're feeling chilled, you can start out your ride with warm water, just as long as you're filling up with some kind of fluid. Colder weather is also likely to make you feel hungrier, so plan to pack a few more snacks than you do on hot summer rides.
Change your Routine
When the weather is colder, your body needs a bit more time to warm up before a ride. Before hopping on the bike, it's wise to do some dynamic stretches to get your muscles warm. Then, do a short warm-up loop around your home. It's wise to do a circle that takes you back by your house in case you want to shed or add anymore layers. The good news is that while warming up may take longer, you may very well feel faster on your ride. The heat of summer can sap your strength - in the cool fall weather you can see marked improvements in your power. That's why it's a great time to ride!