It's important that we set our bikes up for autumn with a little TLC. If you're bike hasn't had any maintenance throughout summer, it may be worth sending your bike in for a tune up. Mechanics are more likely to thoroughly check all parts and give them a good clean or repair. Important components, like gears and chains, should be regularly maintained during the fall season to keep them in good shape so they keep you safe. Here are some way to maintain them:
Gears and Chains- If you know your bike is in good working order, maybe give it a little clean in the gears and chains. Add quality lube with a good wet chain oil to keep it moving better in wet weather.
Brakes - With any type of brake, it's important to know they are working smoothly. With brake pads, you need plenty of life in them to keep you going, especially when the roads start to get covered in leaves and water. Be sure to check them regularly and clean them from leaves, oils, or dirt to keep them in good quality shape.
Whilst in summer it was easy to forget about bike lights, the long dark days looming over us are a good reminder to dig them out. You may need to replace a battery, or charge them up to make sure they are working. I'd recommend that even in the daytime with fog, rain, or mist, that using bright lights is important to maintain safety for when conditions are the road are bad. Just remember, back lights are just as important as front lights to maintain your safety.
Although lights are a legal requirement for cyclist, it's also recommended to stay extra visible during the daytime with hi-viz and reflective gear so that you'll be more noticeable. There are plenty of trousers, jackets, vests, panniers, and helmets on the market with plenty of reflective detailing to keep you noticed on a commute or ride. You can check out some of Bicycling mag's recommendations here.
Keep DryOften gear is designed not to just keep you safe but also dry. While cycling in the rain isn't ideal for anybody, a surprise rainfall and turning up to work or a social gathering wet isn't ideal either. Some ways to avoid getting drenched is to wear a waterproof cover, carry your items in a waterproof rucksack or pannier, and wear waterproof shoe covers. There are loads of waterproof brands on the market that often come with reflective details too. For more, you can check out Total Women's Cycling post on waterproof cycling gear.
Mudguards are to keep your tires from spraying your back with water, mud, and muck from the roads. Fall is the best time to put mudguards on your bike to help you avoid any unpleasant puddles from finding it's way onto your clothes and back. There are a few thing to keep in mind when you are choosing your mudguards for your bike. You should be sure to check if your bike is set up to place them on to get the most coverage which is dependent on your tires size, length, width, and whether your bike has enough clearance and eyelets to bolt mudguards in.
Carry A Spare
Even with all these items to help you stay dry, sometimes they just aren't enough. A rule of thumb for most commuters is to carry a spare. Basically a kit of extra dry clothes, toiletries, cosmetics, towels, etc. If you're out for a joy ride, I'm afraid carrying little kit is usually the rule of the game, which in that case, waterproof kit and gear are your friend.
It's nice being able to keep your bike and things in good shape but when cooler seasons creep along, so does the weight and SADs. With shorter days coming, our cycling mileage decreases. Often our fuel consumption should go down, however, our bodies naturally crave heavier food to keep our bodies warm. If you have a goal to maintain your fitness and develop endurance, keeping up the training program is a must to keep the weight down. If getting outside is an issue, indoor cycling/spin classes are a great way to keep the cycling muscles in shape. As a plus, you'll often be with like minded people in your area doing what you love together. If getting to a class is an issue, a stationary bike, rollers, or trainer is often a good option too.
Staying fit is just as important as eating right for the season. This is a huge one for me as I tend to crave heavier goods as it gets colder. Instead of giving into those cravings, I try adjusting to seasonal fruits and veggies. I've become great at making seasonal soups, juices, roasts, and salads as they are a great way to use seasonal produce while keeping my immune system up during flu season.
With longer darker days fatigue, seasonal sads, and lack of exercise tend to come as we start to hide indoors from the cold. Getting on your bike through fall has its positives for keeping fit throughout the season and better yet it's also a great way to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the coming winter blues. If you're feeling the side affects of seasonal changes, it can be difficult to get a regular routine on your bike but getting into a habit early can help you stay happy and well.
photo courtesy of cafeducycliste