by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com
Bike riding in fall can come with many challenges. However, it can also be immensely rewarding. While bicycle season is winding down for some, for many other cyclists their two wheels are a favorite mode of transportation to explore the great autumn landscape. 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 less insects once the first frost hits.
If you’re planning to ride around this fall, check out these top tips before heading out.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 1: Layer It Up
The temperature fluctuation can be really confusing when you want to get dressed and go biking. The morning can look like 47 or 48 degrees Fahrenheit, but by the afternoon it could be in the lower to mid 70s! The best way to combat this is by wearing multiple layers that you can easily remove and put back on to find your perfect temperature. When layering a good rule of thumb is to make sure that whatever you decide to put on last, it will b the first thing that you’d want to take off!
Pro Tip: Start off while still slightly chilly. As you ride, you’ll warm up and that chilliness will go away. However, bring an extra layer incase 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 a lot of fun. However, a wet, crunchy leaf pile an 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 normal bike tire being thinner, it has less surface area for surface tension. If a leaf gives away, or get stuck onto the tire, a bike can slip out from under you.
Luckily, if you have a fat bike, this is less of a problem. The larger tires adds more traction to the surface and, therefore, is less likely to slip. Even with the lesser likelihood of slipping, caution should still be used.
Also, wet leaf piles can conceal a number of different items. This can include nails, glass, or other objects that can puncture you tires. No one wants a flat while out riding. Sometimes you can’t avoid riding through the piles, but if you can, ride around the leaves.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 3: Stay Visible
Dusk is coming earlier and earlier as the season continues on. This means that the evening is intruding on some great riding opportunities in the daylight. While some daylight will be saved temporarily when we fall backwards an hour on November 6th this year, the time change can still negatively affect cyclists.
When times change it affects a person’s sleeping routine leading to a lack of sleep. This sleep deprivation makes people less attentive while driving. While November 6th is a Sunday this year you would think that people will most likely sleep in and therefore decrease the number of accidents. However, cyclists and other pedestrians should be aware and be extra cautious that day, and the day following. Why? Because people need time to adjust to the time change. It has been found that there is a significant increase of fatal accidents following the changes in daylight savings time when it occurs on a Sunday or Monday – according to a study done in Sleep Medicine and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
This means that staying visible is even more important than usual. This isn’t limited to just the morning, but throughout the day whether on the road or trails.
You can do this in a couple of ways depending what you are comfortable with 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 to 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 colors can also blend you into the background or sidelines making you less visible.
Wear Reflective Clothing
When cycling in the early morning before there’s much daylight, or in the evening, reflective clothing is a must. 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? It’s something you have to do, but you should also do it because you’re interested in 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 end up riding late at night, it’s important 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 laws regarding bike lights (with many similarities as well). For bike laws and more about lighting in Minnesota, Minnesota 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 it’s important that you should 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, it’s best to check to make sure that the tire pressure is perfect before going out for your ride.
Fall Bike Riding Tip 5: The Usual Tools
Remember to bring the usual tools that you would usually bring for your bike adventures! In case anything happens, you want to make sure you have all the materials you need to fix it. To know what these are, check out our article about the tools you should have along 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!
Jess Leong is a writer for HaveFunBiking.com