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5 tips for cycling through the fall

The weather is changing. Are you ready?

With temperatures dropping across the country, it’s clear that summer is over. It’s time to get ready for cooler temps and cloudier days. Autumn rides can be some of the most enjoyable times on the bike, but they can also lead to drastic changes during your ride, weather-wise.

With a bit of planning, there’s no reason not to get the most out of every time out on the bike before winter hits.

1. Check the weather

You most likely already check your smartphone before you ride—but there are lots of apps and sites now that offer much more advance radars to show any incoming rain clouds. Your local news station may say rain in your area, but that might be on the other end of town. But you don’t always need fancy apps. Sometimes simply looking at the sky and watching which way the wind goes will help you avoid nasty cloud cover. If you see dark clouds to the west—and the wind’s pushing them along—try going east.

2. Fenders and flaps FTW

Fenders or mud flaps are a game-changer, even when it’s not raining. Furthermore, when it gets cooler, the roads don’t try as quickly. That means your favourite roads or trails may still be slick, even when it’s sunny. Protecting your shins and backside will keep you comfortable and get you home dry.

3. Bring backup clothes

Weather patterns shift quickly this time of the year. A sudden shower can do more than dampen your mood (or kit.) A thin rain jacket or vest in your back pocket can save you from shivering the whole way home. Also, getting a flat tire this time of the year can leave you really feeling the lower temps. A few minutes off the bike for maintenance can leave you feeling the chill. Throw on a jacket or vest as soon as you stop, and you’ll be happy you brought it along.

4. Head and necks

There’s a reason you see pros wear caps under their helmet. It’s not just to act as a visor; it keeps your head warm. But don’t just stop there. Make sure to cover you neck, too. A neck warmer or bandana can act as a kind of thermostat. Bring one along in your pocket and put it on if you feel cold. Then take it off if you’re overheating. It’s a lightweight way to keep comfortable and regulate your body temperature.

5. Slow it down

Switching out your road bike for a gravel, ‘cross or mountain bike will be a godsend when it comes to staying warm. Not only does a fatter tire bike offer a fun way to mix it up, but when you ride on your usual bike paths, or even new ones in the forest, you’ll be shielded from the elements. More importantly, you’ll be going slower, and working just as hard. Your body will feel warmer than on the exposed windy roads when it’s a bit nippy out.