by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com
Bike riding in the fall can come with many challenges and, at the same time, be very gratifying. For some, the bicycle season may be winding down. In contrast, many others wish to continue to explore the incredible autumn landscape on their favorite mode of transportation, the bike. Pedaling along the colorful autumn roads or trails is so breathtaking that I will admit that fall bike riding is one of my favorite times to ride. Not too hot, not too cold, and there are fewer insects once the first frost hits.
If you plan to ride and enjoy the colorful foliage this fall, check out these top tips before heading out.
Fall Bike Ride Tip 1: Layer It Up
The temperature fluctuation can be confusing when you want to get dressed and go biking. The thermometer in the morning can show temps like 47 or 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, by the afternoon, the temperature could be in the low to mid-70s! The best way to combat this is by wearing multiple layers you can easily remove and put back to find your comfort level of warmth. When layering, a good rule of thumb is whatever you decide to put on last will be the first thing you’d want to take off!
Pro Tip: Start while still slightly chilly. As you ride, you’ll warm up, and that chilliness will go away. However, bring an extra layer in case you stop along the way! You want to stay warm when you’re not riding.
Not sure what to do for layering? Check out our article about how to layer, why it’s beneficial, and what to wear.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 2: Beware of Wet Leaf Piles
The falling leaves are gorgeous, and leaf piles can be fun. However, a wet, crunchy leaf pile can be a hazard when riding your bike through it. Not only can water splash upwards onto your bike and legs, but the bike tires can slip on the leaves. When leaves are wet, they become slick or slippery. With a standard bike tire normally thinner, it has less coverage area for surface tension. A bike can slip out from under you if the leaves you are riding over slip away or get stuck in the tire.
Luckily, this is less of a problem if you have a fat bike or a mountain bike. The larger tires add more traction to the surface, making them less likely to slip. Even with the lesser likelihood of slipping, caution should still be used.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 3: Stay Visible
Dusk is coming earlier and earlier as the fall season continues. This means the evening intrudes on some great riding opportunities in the daylight. In contrast, some days will be saved temporarily when we fall backward an hour on Sunday, November 5th this year. The time change can still negatively affect cyclists.
Also, when times change, it can affect a person’s sleeping routine, leading to a lack of sleep. This sleep deprivation may make people less attentive while driving or riding a bike. You would think that people would sleep in, being the 5th is on a Sunday, decreasing the number of accidents. However, cyclists and other pedestrians should be aware and extra cautious for the next few days. Why? Because people need time to adjust to the time change. According to a study done in Sleep Medicine and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, it has been found that there is a significant increase in fatal accidents following the changes in daylight savings time when it occurs on a Sunday or Monday.
This means that staying visible is even more critical than usual. This isn’t limited to the morning but throughout the day, whether on the road or trail.
You can do this in several ways, depending on what you are comfortable doing. Plus, the more you do, the more you increase your visibility.
Wear Light or Neon Colored Clothing
Wearing bright colors will make you stand out. If someone doesn’t see you begin with, the color will catch their attention, and they will find it easier to keep tabs on where you are. On the other hand, wearing dark colors isn’t recommended. Dark colors can blend into the dark and reduce your visibility. Natural dyes can also blend you into the background or sidelines, making you less visible.
Wear Reflective Clothing
Reflective clothing is a must when cycling in the early morning before there is much daylight or in the evening. This way, when the headlights on a car shine on you, you’re immediately recognized.
Add Lights to Your Bike
Did you know it’s a law to have lights on your bike? You have to do it, but you should do it because you’re interested in protecting yourself and staying safe.
It’s important to note that lights aren’t required for daytime riding. However, since we never know when it might get dark out, and we can’t plan for all those times when we ride late at night, it’s essential to have a light handy. If it’s already attached to your bike, then it’s something you don’t have to worry about!
Unfortunately, there are no excuses if you get pulled over by a police officer for riding in dark conditions without one. Every state might have slightly different bike-light laws (with many similarities). For bike laws and more about lighting here in Minnesota, The Department of Transportation has a condensed document to review.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 4: Check Your Tire Pressure and Tires
As discussed earlier, leaves can hide different items that can puncture your tire. It’s not always avoidable, so you must check your tires occasionally. This shouldn’t be limited to the fall and winter but should be checked every time before you begin riding. Doing this allows you to catch any problems sooner rather than later.
Another thing to check is tire pressure. While fall isn’t as cold as winter, the cold can still alter the tire pressure. So, checking the tire pressure before each ride is best.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 5: The Usual Tools
Remember to bring the basic repair tools for your bike adventures! If anything happens, you will want to ensure you have all the necessary supplies to fix it. To know these, check out our article about the tools you should have for any ride.
With these tips, you’re sure to have a great and safe extended season as you continue to ride your bike through autumn.
Keep safe, have fun, and ride on!