Cycling is a healthy and robust pastime that has the potential to add years to your life. And while it is mostly enjoyed in the warmer months, cycling in the fall offers its own kind of magic that you won’t get any other time of year. The cooler temperatures make riding more pleasant, the falling leaves add a particular charm to the landscape, and the shifting colours of the environment showcase how dynamic Mother Nature is. Yes, the autumn season brings with it a picturesque perspective. But to get the most out of your road, pathway, or rocky mountain cycling experience, there are a few considerations you may want to take into account before your next excursion. Here are 5 useful tips for cycling in the fall:

1. Dress in Layers

With the fall season comes colder temperatures. And whether you’re going on a simple ride on a nearby pathway, or an extensive Banff bike tour, our message is the same: be prepared for the weather. You most likely never had to give this a second thought during the spring or summer months — all that was required during those seasons was a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. However, it becomes a different story as far as fall is concerned. You should have a wardrobe consisting of all the necessities to accommodate your fall bike ride outings. Some types of clothing to consider may be:
  • Arm warmers
  • Leg and knee warmers
  • Gloves/mittens
  • A vest
  • Long-sleeve, wind-resistant sweater/jacket, etc
Additionally, having a couple of spare t-shirts to throw on when the weather is being particularly petulant is really convenient. You also may want to consider your footwear. Many cyclists tend to wear air-ventilated shoes in the warmer months; however, these shoes can easily produce frozen feet and toes once fall comes around. Consider investing in some toe-covered shoes that protect against the biting wind. This is something you’ll be very grateful for when things cool off during the fall. Try out different clothes and accessories to see what works best for you.

2. Keep Dry

In addition to a chillier climate, fall also brings more precipitation. And as any seasoned cyclist knows; few things are as uncomfortable as drenched clothes on a cold and rainy bike ride. With this being the case, make sure that you are prepared by having waterproof and breathable clothing. There are plenty of specialty jackets, sweaters, and accessories offered at sports stores that you can invest in. Additionally, consider opting for a pair of fenders to stop the water from splashing upward and soaking your legs. These are a great way to keep yourself dry in the fall season. And if you really want to go the extra mile, it would be prudent of you to get a pair of clear-lensed glasses. This will allow for more transparency in the wet weather, which of course, will act as a safety precaution as well.

3. Ensure Visibility

The arrival of fall means shorter days. The sun takes longer to rise and is quicker to set, and this entails that your level of visibility will be compromised (depending on the time of day you typically go for your bike rides). Be sure that you are as visible as you can be. In low-lit conditions, it can be hard for other cyclists or even motorists to see you. You may want to purchase reflectors for your bike or a reflective vest to wear on your person to accentuate your visibility among others. Moreover, you could also invest in brighter clothing to help reflect light to make you more noticeable as well. Other considerations to think about include:
  • Taillights
  • Headlamp
  • LED lights for the wheels
  • Reflective wrist, arm, ankle, and leg bands

4. Maintain Your Bicycle

The drastic change in weather conditions (colder temperatures, stronger winds, more rainfall, etc), can eventually take a toll on your bike. For this reason, it’s a good idea to properly take care of and maintain your bicycle. Ensure that you’re keeping it clean; a buildup of dirt and grime can lead to erosion and comprise the structural integrity of your bike. But a simple 5 minute wipe down every other week or so will prevent such occurrences from happening. Additionally, trading out your tires every 6 months or so would be prudent of you. Wear and tear are always taking place, even if you can’t immediately see it. And besides, it’s just common sense to install tires for the particular season you’re heading into. More rain, frost, as well as slippery leaves of the fall season culminate together to make for a more precarious bike ride. This means it’s in your best interest to ensure your bicycle is up to snuff. Consider opting for wider rubber tires to enhance traction and gripping, this will provide a more in-control experience because of the increased mobility due to better handling.

5. Be Adaptable and Optimistic

One of the most noticeable signs of fall (besides the changing weather) is the change in lifestyle for people in general. People shift routines, kids go back to school, life slows down a little bit from the hustle and bustle of summer. This is a good thing. It’s an opportunity to reevaluate your objectives and see where you’d like to go next in regards to your fitness goals. You can reflect back on the previous season to see what biking tips, tactics, etc, have proven valuable to you and what hasn’t. You can then discard the methods, accessories, etc, that no longer serve you, and continue with the ones that do. Additionally, you also may want to adapt other routines to the fall season. Your diet, your warm-up routine, your riding schedule, etc. All of these aspects can be adapted and shifted around to meet not only the fall season but also your goals as well. And last but not least, remember to remain optimistic. Sometimes the changes that come with fall can put a damper on your attitude: colder weather, less sunlight, and more slippery trails can all add up to an increasingly challenging season. Try to remain in a good headspace despite these difficulties. It’s not always easy, but it certainly does help in producing more enjoyable bike rides, regardless of what season it is.
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