by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
Now that the kids have gone back to school, the days are getting shorter and temperatures begin to drop it is the best time of year to ride your bike. From a trail perspective, the dirt becomes softer as the fall rolls in because of lower temperatures and increased rainfall. Additionally, riding off road in the fall is a beautiful way to enjoy the change in foliage. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the leaves changing if you choose to ride on the path or road. In fact, great fall rides often have specific vista points built into the ride. With all the great things about riding through the fall there are some dangers as well. Read on to learn how to enjoy the fall riding season safely.
Fall bike riding road hazards
Those beautiful fall colors are enjoyable, but also a sign of falls largest hazard. Falling leaves that mix with fall rains begin to break down and decompose on road surfaces. What is left behind is a slick slurry of organic matter perfectly suited to eliminate traction and cause a crash. As you ride in the fall, avoid riding too far off the edge of the road. Likewise, don’t ride too far into the middle of the road where leaves tend to accumulate.
Fall bike riding off road hazards
The same problems with traction and decomposing leaves exists off road, but it’s not as large an issue as on the road. Thanks to the soft dirt and rough surface, riders have a better chance of finding traction when the leaves get wet. What you should be on the lookout for is what you can’t see. Makes total sense, right?! Whenever you are on a trail that has fallen leaves, objects can hide in those leaf piles.
Being seen while fall bike riding
As the days get shorter, you need to be concerned with being seen in low light situations, that’s where proper lighting comes in. Lights, no matter your level of bike riding skill, are essential to make sure you have the safest ride possible. Plus, most states require bike lights to ride on a roadway (here is Minnesota’s law). The two types of lights on the market are lights that allow you to see, and lights that allow others to see you.
Seeing the trail
A great side effect to the shortened days is going for night rides with your mountain bike. Night riding was first born out of the necessity of riding, but has quickly become a fun part of the sport in and of itself. With this in mind, get yourself a high output light, strap it to your bike and head into the woods. In the long run you will see that riding at night changes how you see your local trails, and makes then new and fun.
Dressing the part for fall bike riding
Universally across on or off-road riders, the fall brings colder temperatures. To combat these temps you want to dress accordingly. Early fall rides force us to break out the arm and knee warmers, with long sleeve jerseys marching quickly behind. When dressing for colder weather, be sure to not overdress. Being too insulated will cause you to sweat past your cycling clothings ability to move moisture. At that point, you get wet, and cold, which defeats the purpose of wearing more clothing.
Falls unique events
Many charity rides are scheduled through the fall because of its great weather, and ambient beauty. One event type that is completely exclusive to fall is the sport of Cyclocross. What is Cyclocross you ask? Well, the best way to describe it is it’s just fun. A Cyclocross race is a timed (30,45,60 minutes) event that covers a one-mile course including, road, off road, grass, and sand sections with manmade and natural barriers. The best part of Cyclocross is that spectators can enjoy the action easily. Additionally, Cyclocross races are very family friendly and usually include things like food trucks, kids bike rodeos, and beer tastings.
How ever you decide to spend you fall, try and spend it outside on your bike. The Fall is a great time to get back on the bike, steal a few more hours in the saddle, or enjoy natures last show before the winters long sleep.