Autumn cycling guide
Our tips for having fun and staying safe on your bike once the summer sun has gone
We’re well into autumn now. The long days and sunny warmth have faded away and the trees are putting on their most brilliant display. You might have noticed that your usual cycling route through the city is quieter, emptier. For some, the change of seasons might be reason to put the bike away for the year and think about using other modes of transport to get around. We think autumn is a great time for staying on your bike. You don’t need a load of fancy new gear but there are some simple, easy things you can do to make cycling more comfortable and pleasant as the temperature drops and we head towards the end of the year. The team at Beryl has shared their top tips for cycling this season. We hope you’ll keep riding.
Top tip: Pack light. Ride light. One of the greatest things about cycling is how easy and simple it is. Keep it like that.
The kit: arm sleeves, mud guard, extra pair of socks, cap, gloves, waterproof jacket, backpack, silica gel, bike lights, shoe covers.
Stay warm - but not too warm
The temperature is dropping - layers are the way to go. Wearing a few thin layers will help trap air and insulate you from the cold. Often it’s not as cold as you think though so don’t overdo it. If you can bear a few minutes of cold at the start of your ride, you’ll soon warm up and won’t have to stop to take off clothes.
A good option for those in between days where you start off cold but quickly warm up are versatile pieces such as arm sleeves. Easy to take off and stuff in a pocket when you are waiting at a traffic light mid-ride.
Another suggestion is fingerless gloves - a halfway option for your hands if even thin gloves are too warm.
If you tend to get cold feet, there are a range of toe covers which are inexpensive and go over your shoes to keep your toes toasty. If this is an occasional problem, foil on your feet on top of your socks will have the same effect.
Up top, a light cycling cap under your helmet helps to insulate your head. A peak on the cap can also help shield your eyes if you have short sections facing into a low setting sun on the way home. If your entire commute home faces west, sunglasses would be better.
Staying dry on your bike
A lot of the battle in staying warm is staying dry. Autumn weather can change at the drop of a hat so be prepared.
A lightweight waterproof jacket which folds up small in your bag is a good idea. There are lots of cycling specific jackets on the market but any waterproof will work. We like jackets with a couple of pockets so you can stash gloves or arm sleeves easily. A rain poncho will also do the trick but won’t be very durable.
Mud guards really come into their own in autumn as the weather gets wetter. Guards will stop spray and mud going up your back. They’ll also stop water and dirt flying up into the face of the cyclist behind you.
An Ass Saver is low cost and simple option to add to any bike if you haven’t got mud guards.
Tip: To dry out wet shoes, stuff them with newspaper and stick them on a radiator or in a warm airing cupboard.
Perhaps even more important than keeping yourself dry is keeping your gear dry. Your skin and hair will dry off just fine. The same can’t be said for your laptop.
If your usual backpack or panniers aren’t waterproof, a removable waterproof cover will do the trick. These also come in a variety of high viz and reflective finishes so kill two birds with one stone. For added protection for valuables, use ziplock freezer bags within your backpack. Silica gel bags (like the ones you get in shoe boxes) will absorb any extra moisture keeping your prized possessions dry as a bone.
Tip: Don’t forget to check the weather forecast. Forewarned is forearmed and the weather at this time of year changes quickly and often.
Keeping your bike in good shape for the season
Following a long summer of exploring on two wheels, now is a good time to make sure your bike is in good condition.
With wet conditions and mud and leaves on the road, treat yourself to that tire upgrade you’ve been promising yourself. Or at least invest in a new pair of the ones you’ve already got. Fresh tread will give you better grip and stop you sliding around.
With the wetter weather your bike will need to be cleaned more often. One particularly important part of the bike to check more frequently is your brake pads. These will wear out quicker from the water, grit and mud on the road.
Light up your ride
We wouldn’t be Beryl if we didn’t mention bike lights. In the UK, you’ll need a white front light and a red rear light between the hours of sunset and sunrise but it’s a good idea to stay illuminated throughout the day when weather is poor and visibility low.
Make sure you have a spare charging cable at work so you can keep the light batteries topped up.
Add our Pixel light to your packing list - use it as a secondary light mounted to a helmet or backpack, or keep it safe as a back up light.
Making the most of autumn
Although it may take a few more minutes preparation in the morning, we think that sticking with your bike through the autumn is really rewarding.
The colours of the trees are spectacular, so ease off on your attempt at a personal commuting record and take the road less travelled.
Vary your route to make the most of any parks or canals on the way. The autumn colours are invigorating and worth a few extra minutes riding.
If you’re in London, use the Quietways network to find a new route and some of the many hidden corners of the city. Changing your routine lets you experience the city in a new way.
The leaves look beautiful but once they’re on the ground they can pose a hazard to cyclists. Avoid riding through piles of leaves as they can conceal rubbish, stones, conkers and more that can cause punctures. When wet they can also be really slippery, so stay out of the gutter where leaves tend to accumulate.
Tip: A great way to take advantage of the season is to join a community bike ride. Discover new routes and meet new people. End the ride somewhere with a good mug of something warm.
The end of Summer time means an hour less light in the evenings. But you’ll gain an hour in the morning. If you like long rides, set your alarm to get up early at the weekend. Make the most of the autumn colours and the frosty mornings when roads are quiet.