Keep Cycling this Autumn (and enjoy it) by following these 7 Tips
You already use your bike to get to work or to do the shopping, so you know the many benefits – and joys – of cycling. But, as we head into autumn you might be thinking of abandoning the bike for public transport or even the car. With the right preparation, though, you can continue cycling right into winter.
1) Invest in a good waterproof
No one wants to arrive at work a rain-sodden mess. There are several lightweight waterproofs available, but it’s worth investing a more heavy-duty one if you want to keep up the cycling throughout autumn and winter. These don’t have to be scratchy, sweaty plastic or bright yellow. The No Such Thing ladies’ cycling trenchcoat is waterproof, breathable, moisture wicking and looks good enough to wear off the bike, while Vulpine’s Harrington jacket for men is a classic. Or you could buy a red rain cape and pretend you’re a superhero…
2) Stay warm
The key to keeping warm is layering. September mornings can be chilly, but it often heats up by the evening. A good merino base layer is essential. High-end clothing retailer Victor and Liberty stock several for men and women that are stylish enough to wear in the office; these are breathable and moisture wicking, so you won’t whiff. You’ll want a long-sleeved top too, for those colder days. You could try armwarmers: small and easy to stuff into a pocket, just pull them on for cold mornings and peel them off when it warms up. Svelte London does some funky ones (I’ve been complimented on mine when cycling to work!). Check out the company’s Heritage jerseys, too.
3) Bag it up
It’s no good keeping yourself dry if your bag isn’t waterproof – especially when carrying a change of clothes. Cyclechic stocks several panniers that are water resistant, none of which will look out of place as you make your way from bike rack to office. Check out the Hill & Ellis Professor Cycling Pannier, styled to look like a satchel and complete with a waterproof reflective cover.
Treat your bike to a service to keep it in tip-top condition. Making friends with a local bike mechanic will pay dividends, while a basic bike maintenance course is a good investment. At the very least you should learn how to replace a punctured tyre and keep your chain clean and oiled.
5) Clean machine
Those filthy roads really aren’t good for your bike – grease clogging up the moving parts, increasing wear and tear on the chain, corroding the chrome. Wash your bike thoroughly, paying particular attention to the chain. Keep all the parts moving smoothly with regular applications of oil. But don’t overdo it – a single drop on each chain link is sufficient. And don’t use WD40; invest in a decent brand like Muc-off’s Wet Lube.
6) Be seen
The majority of motorists who hit cyclists claim they simply didn’t see them. We can’t make motorists more observant, but we can ensure that we’re as visible as possible. Road position is important: don’t ride in the gutter and if space is limited take the primary line to ensure you’re seen.
UK law states that front and rear lights must be used between dusk and dawn. There is a bewildering variety to choose from. Keep in mind that if you do most of your cycling on well-light urban roads you don’t need very bright lights, just bright enough to be seen. The Laserlight from Blaze projects a bike symbol 20 feet in front of you, and anecdotal evidence is strong that drivers do see it and pay attention. It also has a 300-lumen LED light.
Wherever you stand on the ‘Great Helmet Debate’ we can all agree that the Lumos helmet ups visibility. A Kickstarter success, the lid boasts front and rear lights as well as an indicator, controlled by buttons mounted on your handlebars.
7) Choose the right tyres
The worse the weather gets, the more likely you are to get a puncture, while wet roads can be slippery and dangerous. It’s a good idea to replace your tyres with more autumn-friendly ones. Opt for some with a deeper tread to grip the roads better and that are harder wearing and offer some measure of puncture protection. LifeLine Essential Commuter Road Tyres are favourites among hardened all-weather commuters; they won’t prevent all punctures, but any little helps.
You should also keep a spare tyre and pump in your bag at all times, just in case.