A Fabulous Cyclist’s Guide to Weathering Fall

It’s September 18, and this morning I woke up to this:
But, I have things to do, like hitting the gym and going to work. I even have lunchtime ride scheduled with a friend who just bought a new bicycle yesterday and is now a fabulous lady cyclist! So that means I’ll be riding anyway.
No worries about that here, though! Although at times I still need to motivate (see my bicycle motivation post for some help with that,or share your own motivation!), today I’m awake and ready to go.
A little common sense and possibly some gear will do wonders, though. Here are my recommendations for riding your bike in Fall weather:
1.)  Caution: Visibility can decrease in the Fall, sometimes drastically, due to rain, fog, and decreased daylight hours. That means, be alert! Even if you ride the same routes every day, you may miss something if you default to ‘autopilot’, and of course, it is also more difficult for others to see you.
2.)  Turn your lights on: For the same reasons to use extra caution, you may want to ride with your lights on during the daytime– and definitely always use them during twilight hours (morning and evening).
Lights on at dusk! From Crystal Price at KVAL News
3.)  Ride with sole: Francesca discussed some great options for wearing heels in her guest post, and in general, during inclement weather, it’s a good idea to wear shoes with non-slip soles while riding your bicycle. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to ride with snow boots (unless it’s actually snowing, but that’s a different story). But take it from someone who has slipped and fallen in the rain because of shoes with slidey soles, it’s not a recommended experience. And some good news, there are stick-on soles available for your favorite boots (or for your pumps if it’s cold but not rainy).
4.)  Layer it up: It may be colder outside, but exercise will still get you hot. That means the thick winter jacket that keeps you warm when you’re standing still will be soaked with sweat while you’re riding your bike and you’ll be dying to throw it off. Better to wear a few layers and take them off as necessary (easy toss into your basket or stuff into panniers or backpack). Expert level is to start out a little bit cold and allow yourself to warm up naturally while pedaling, and packing the layers in advance for when you get to where you’re going.

November 2012 LFAR 19 with light layers. Photo credit: Hart Noecker

5.)  Park in a covered spot: Maybe this means walking a half block or carrying your bicycle with you indoors, or even braving an outdoor bike cage. But keeping water and cold away from getting into your bike will literally keep the grease in your chain, not to mention keeping rust and wear at bay.
English: Bike and ride bicycle rack at Rákoske...
Covered bike and ride bicycle rack at Rákoskert train station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6.)  Bag it up: When circumstances prohibit practical parking of your bicycle in a covered area, do your bum a favor and cover your seat with a plastic bag (a tarp or shower cap also work) while your bike sits in the rain. Then remove right before getting back on, so you can ride away with a dry seat! You can also purchase fitted caps for your seat, like this one by Eleanor’s, reviewed in the Amanda Rose Blog:
A fitted bike seat cover. Reviewed in the Amanda Rose Blog
       Other seat covers are expressly waterproof and, unlike the one reviewed above, are meant to be taken off before you ride.
7.)  Consider investing in gear– Wisely: Some gear is a sound idea for almost anyone who lives with weather. This includes wind-proof, waterproof gloves (these are an absolute must!), lightweight rain-proof over-layers (pants and jacket), waterproof boots and/or shoes, windbreakers, and yellow, rose, or dusty orange sunglasses for wearing during dusk, dawn, clouds, fog, and rain. Some sort of waterproofing for your backpack and/or basket is also recommended, even if it’s just putting your water-sensitive items in a Ziploc-type plastic bag before placing them in the backpack or basket. Bike shops and sporting stores will try to sell you all kinds of expensive weather gear for your bicycle, so really assess your priorities and budget.
#2011Selfie with my favorite yellow glasses

8.)  You probably don’t need snow gear for your bicycle: Unless you know for a fact that you love riding in the snow, chances are good that when the weather gets to frozen, you’ll be finding other ways to get to work. But if you have ridden in the snow, and just felt that you were sliding a little too often, then snow tires and little chains may work for you. Tying zip-ties around your tires also works to dig into the snow. This may also be a good place to wear insulated waterproof boots and layers, too– think of dressing like you’re going snowboarding or skiing.
You may want snow gear here. From Montana 1 a Day
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