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Cycling in the Off-Season

By Jacqui Snyder

The weather is changing. The days are shorter and it’s cooler; often wet. Does that mean we have to give up on cycling? Not at all! There is no bad weather; there is only bad clothing! With a little planning, knowledge and organizing, you can continue to cycle all Autumn, and even into the winter. 

In fact, the fall is a beautiful time of year to cycle. The air is crisp and the leaves are changing to brilliant colours. Here are some pointers for keeping safe and comfortable cycling in the cooler weather.

  • With fewer cyclists on the road, drivers anticipate us less, therefore be very aware of what is going on around you and ensure you wear light coloured clothing that is highly visible. Yellow is the most visible. Consider a reflective vest.
  • Falling leaves can be slippery; don’t make any sudden moves. Consider putting fatter tires on if you cycle with slicks.
  • Avoid cycling through piles of leaves. You have no idea what is under them. The same is true of puddles of water.
  • Paint lines on roads and subway tracks are slippery when wet. Again, no sudden moves and cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle.  This means looking behind you to see what is coming, signal and making eye-contact with encroaching traffic
  • Wear layers of clothing. Early in the fall it can be very chilly in the morning and often gets quite warm by around 1pm. Wear breathable clothes in layers that can be removed. All large, quality bike shops and places like Mountain Equipment Co-op carry the appropriate clothing and equipment:
    • You can get a fabulous cover for your helmet in bright yellow with reflective strips on it for riding in the rain. The cover also has a visor to keep the rain off your face and a flap down the back to keep the water from running down your neck. These hats have a draw-string so you can fit it snugly over your helmet
    • Get a head band or light hat to put under your helmet in the cool weather. Consider something to cover your ears. I know that mine get very irritated by the cold wind in the fall.
    • As it gets darker and more frequently overcast you will find it helpful to have clear glasses or lenses to keep rain and debris out of your eyes
    • Buy arm warmers to wear when the start of day is cool but warm enough later for T-shirts. These are compact and easy to remove and carry for the duration of your ride
    • Get cycling gloves with full fingers to keep your hands warm as the weather gets cooler. You may even want to wear winter gloves as it really cools down.

    • Get leg-warmers which are a similar concept to the above.
    • If the weather is expected to stay cool all day, get long pants. In the event of rain, there are fabulous breath-able yet waterproof pants you can purchase that also have lycra in them and don’t constrict your movement
    • Consider wicking long underwear as needed.
    • Thicker sports socks are available, or if they don’t fit in your cycling shoes, you can purchase booties. Booties go over the outside of you shoes, and are designed to allow you to use your clips. 
  • Think about your bicycle and what you need to carry.
    • As it gets darker earlier, ensure you have working front and rear lights.  The front light should be white and the rear one should be red.
    • Put reflective tape on your bicycle. Put white tape on the front forks and red on the rear forks and seat stay.
    • Use waterproof panniers or purchase a cover for the bags you carry.
  • Consider alternatives to cycling on the road while maintaining your cycle fitness.
    • Take spin-classes at your local gym or spin studio
    • Get a home bicycle trainer and create your own home gym
    • Consider a cycle trip to a warm place, like Cuba, Mexico, Central or South America, Africa, Australia or New Zealand to name a few.
    • This is a great time for some cross-training like Yoga and weights, that will help with your cycle fitness.

Have a fabulous, safe, warm cycling “off-season”, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if you have a topic you would like me to focus on for a future issue.

Jacqui Snyder
ADVENTOURUS Active Vacations
CAN-BIKE Instructor
[email protected]

Jacqui Snyder is an avid sports-person, trained Chef (George Brown College graduate; trained in Switzerland and England), foodie, people-person and traveler. She is a certified CAN-BIKE instructor and has cycled for as long as she can remember. Jacqui runs ADVENTOURUS Active Vacations, organizing skiing, cycling, and hiking vacations.

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