As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, as the temperature drops and the leaves fall from the trees, many a cyclist will pack their bicycle away until the Spring, waiting until warmer days come again. Personally, I think that’s great as it gives me all those fantastic trails out there all to myself. Of course, Autumn cycling is not without its potential problems and a recent ride prompted me to write a few words about some of them.
Now, the colours of Autumn are amazing and a carpet of reds, browns and golds on the woodland floor is a sight to behold, however, dangers can hide amongst those leaves. Don’t panic, I’m not taking about lurking goblins or bear traps just the usual hazards you contend with all year round. This first of them are twigs, fallen branches, roots and logs.
These items are often very difficult to see under a drift of leaves, and hitting a large sub-surface branch at an angle can flip you sideways. Even a small unseen branch can jam your wheel, gear mechanism or even brakes. Even the leaves themselves can build up on the bike and hinder gearing and brakes. So exercise care at all times when riding across Autumn leaves. Hidden dips and gulleys, full of wind-blown leaves, can also catch the unwary.
Another item for concern during Autumn rides is temperature. Mornings can start cold, even below freezing, and you dress accordingly. However, as the day progress temperatures rise and that thick jacket is now a burden. Similarly, you head out later in the days when its warner, again dressing for the temperature, and as the sun drops below the horizon temperatures start to drop but you’ve not got enough clothing to keep warm. This is where a good clothing system comes in and that is simply lots of thin layers rather than a few thick layers. You can then add or remove clothing when required. It’s also a good idea to have somewhere to carry your clothing as well.
Shorter days means longer nights and you may find yourself heading for home when darkness is falling. As I rule I would always carry lights with me, particularly when out cycling away from urban areas. You might not expect to need lights but any delay such as a mechanical failure could see you walking home and that takes much longer than cycling. Bicycle lights these days are plentiful, in-expensive, lightweight and I would say well worth carrying on Autumn rides.
Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.