The nights are drawing in and the weather is changing, but autumn can often be a great time of year to cycle.
Autumn can be an unpredictable time of year. The weather may occasionally be wetter and windier and it will often be colder in the mornings and evenings, but there will also be dry and sunny days, which may turn out to be warmer than expected. In fact, autumn can give some of the best cycling days.
That said, there is less daylight and the weather can catch you unaware, but with just a small amount of additional preparation, cycling in autumn can be at least as enjoyable as in the height of summer.
From making sure your bike runs smoothly, through to choosing the right clothing and accessories, these autumn cycling tips will help you get prepared and keep you on two wheels right through the season.
Get ready to ride
Check your bike
Important at any time of year, but especially so when there is greater chance you will be cycling in poor weather or after dark. The last thing you want is to have to make running repairs in wet and dark conditions.
The best way to ensure this doesn't happen is to get into a regular habit of giving your bike a once over. It shouldn't take long, and this video from British Cycling's Commute Smart series shows you how:
Stay one step ahead of the weather
Autumn weather can be fairly changeable, so it can be quite difficult to decide what to wear while cycling. The key to getting it right is layering.
You will almost certainly need a waterproof and windproof jacket which will keep out the rain and cold and for most short commutes, a lightweight, packable jacket should be sufficient.
For longer cycle rides, several thinner layers of clothing are preferable to one thick outer jacket. Even if it is cold when you start to ride, autumn days can still get quite warm and layering allows you to regulate your temperature by removing or adding a garment.
Also, don't forget to have gloves to hand in case the morning or evening turns out to be colder than you expected. There is nothing worse than getting cold hands while out riding.
This great British Cycling video will help you prepare for cycling whatever the weather:
Be bright, be seen
Consider, as the evenings get darker earlier, how easily you can be seen while on your bike. Bright clothing may help, particularly in the flat light of twilight.
When cycling at night, however, it is a good idea to use clothing or accessories that have reflective elements that will stand out in vehicle headlights and will be far more effective than wearing bright colours alone.
Most important, and a legal requirement when cycling at night, is to ensure you have lights on your bike. Make sure to keep the batteries charged, so they are always ready for that dark ride home.
Once again, British Cycling offers sensible advice in this short video:
By following the above advice you will be prepared for most conditions that autumn can throw at you.
In case you do get caught out by unexpected bad weather you may want to consider keeping a spare change of clothes at work or in your bag.
Likewise, for any niggling mechanical issues, or emergency repairs, it is prudent to carry a multi-tool, a spare inner-tube, a pair of tyre levers and a pump whenever you are riding your bike. The last thing you want is to be stranded halfway home as the heavens begin to open.