Halloween has passed without much fanfare and now, ‘tis the season for… another lockdown. Who saw that coming? The good news is that, as in the previous three-month shut-in that lasted from March to the end of June, we can still get out for an hour a day to exercise (although who’s to know if one were to go out for longer). This leaves us cycling enthusiasts with great scope to get out and enjoy the country around us as we shift out of golden Summer and into a crisp bronze Autumn. Here’s a couple of tips on how to ride safely as the world gets darker, muddier and more slippery.
Autumn is a beautiful, yet treacherous, time to be out on the road (or off it, for you MTB riders), as the green leaves of Summer turn to shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. Lovely to behold but, wet with rain and slippery, they can take the ground out from under you if you’re not careful. Sometimes, even if you are. With the arrival of wet weather comes, inevitably, the cold. Make sure to layer up properly as you ride and make sure to include a windproof element too. The cold can be a welcome change from the heat of summer when you’re pushing hard in the saddle but, if you’re not careful, it can catch you out. The differences in temperature between night and day are stark in the autumn and winter months so, if you’re an early riser, chances are things will heat up significantly as day breaks.
This brings me to another point. Daylight savings. I’ve already been caught out once or twice by the longer nights, shorter days and the literal change in time itself, so be mindful when you set that alarm. Most weather apps can give you a time for sunrise and sunset, so do have a look before you plan your ride. It might be a lot darker and your ride much colder than you expect! On the topic of darkness, it is important to be seen. I know all black gear looks cooler – the Sith, the New Zealand Rugby team and Stone Cold Steve Austin are testament to this absolute fact, but a splash of colour and a few reflectives won’t cramp your style all that much, I promise. Lights, front and back, are a necessity also.
As I mentioned before, the cold can be a welcome change from the dry heat of Summer when you’re pushing hard on a hill, but be aware that, although numbed by the cold, your body still requires constant hydration to perform at its optimum level, so make sure to take plenty of water and drink often. The road may be wet, but you’ll still need a bottle (and, on the topic of liquid, some Veloflow wouldn’t go amiss either). One final tip to ride comfortably and safely through autumn is a tyre change. Winter tyres are not a meme – they can really help with grip on slippery roads and save you some nasty scrapes on those sneaky hidden corners. Hopefully, you find some of these tips helpful. Some of them might sound obvious, but it’s so easy to forget the little things. Happy riding!