Top 10 Tips for Fall Commuting

Monday, October 15, 2018 by Ziggy's

While we all surely welcome the relief from the heat and humidity (and who can complain about how gorgeous the leaves look as they change in the fall) this time of year brings with it a few challenges for those who use their bicycle to get around. Shorter days, cooler mornings and nights, almost constant cloud cover and a little more rain than we'd prefer can be a potential deterrent... but it doesn't have to be this way! We've scoured the internet and collected the top ten tips for cycling into the fall. 

1. Stay dry

One of the biggest reasons for leaving the bike in the garage is the rain. Getting wet is no fun on the best of days. Include the colder weather that comes with fall that can be a recipe for disaster (or a serious chill). But rain, even pouring rain, doesn't have to mean getting wet! In fact, cycling-specific rain gear can help you keep you dry and warm on your bike in even the worst of downpours. 

The Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is the ultimate jacket for wet commuting conditions. The jacket comes in bright colours with reflective material for maximum visibility on cloudy days and is fully waterproof to protect you from the rain. Complete with under arm zips for added venting, a drop tail for lower back and seat coverage, and a rear pocket for riding essentials, you'll be prepared to face the elements no matter where the road takes you.

2. Waterproof everything

Staying dry is so nice we have to say it twice! Don't forget about your feet when you're sizing up waterproof gear. Wet feet are the absolute worst and can increase the risk of hypothermia if exposed to the cold for extended periods of time. Thankfully, gone are the days of putting plastic bags in your boots. If the forecast is calling for rain, get ahead of the game with a pair of waterproof over socks. Bontrager's Stormshell Over Sock is designed to be worn inside your shoes and over your socks, providing waterproof, windproof and breathable protection for all those damp days.

If you commute with your lunch, your laptop, or anything else you'd like to keep dry, than waterproof panniers are a must. It's a huge pain to need to put on an extra layer, only to find that the rain has seeped through your bag. Arkel has a wide range of waterproof panniers in a variety of sizes to ensure everything stays dry on your ride to work.

3. Wool is great, wear it! 

Merino wool holds moisture without feeling wet and it is a great thermal insulator, effectively keeping in the warm and out the cold. Paired with waterproof outerwear or over socks, a pair of nice wool socks can keep your feet warm and dry no matter how much you sweat it out. Complete your look with a wool athletic sweater and you'll be ready to ride!

4. Adjust your riding based on the weather

Piles of leaves left in the gutters will become matted and wet over time, painted lines in intersections, and gasoline on the asphalt all become slick as ice in the fall, increasing the risk of fishtailing and losing control of your bike. Pretty much everything is a slippery slope during rainy fall days, so leave a bit earlier, take your time, and tackle those corners a little slower than you normally would. 

Along these same lines, when you’re riding through the rain on a bike with rim brakes, be sure to ease on the brakes as you begin rolling into a stop. Feathering on the brakes helps to remove water and dirt on the pads, giving you a better grip to brake with.

5. Keep your neck and face warm

No one wants to feel like the wind is going right through them. Cut out the cool breeze by wearing a neck gaiter, like this one by Bontrager. It's a hat. It's a scarf. It's a balaclava. It's an ear band. It's an ultralight, fast-drying, double-sided thermal tube that can be just about anything you need it to be. It's light enough to wear in the fall and warm enough to keep you riding all season long.

6. Layer like your life depends on it

With the changing season, the weather takes a spin for the crazy. It can be hard to know how to dress for a rainy, cold morning when the afternoon is calling for a warm front. The answer? Layers, layers, layers! Start off with a baselayer, follow up with a long sleeve jersey, and top it off with a vest to cut the wind. Don't forget to pack extra layers in your bag so you can change with the weather. You can always remove a layer or two and stick it in your bag if you get too warm, or add a layer if the day turns chill. Wearing layers ensures that you can adapt to whatever the day brings and keeps you comfortable in any conditions. Even if it isn't calling for rain, bring that waterproof outerwear just in case! 

7. Stay visible

With the days getting shorter and shorter, the evening gets earlier and darker. It's a law in Ontario that you must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector on your bike if you ride between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise. Not only do you risk not being seen by motorists or other cyclists, you risk getting a ticket! Ensure that you can see (and be seen) at all hours of the night with the new Bontrager Ion Pro RT / Flare RT Light Set, delivering a whopping 1300 lumens in the front at its highest setting. Both the front and rear lights are USB rechargeable, saving both the environment and your pocketbook.

8. Bring extra socks

Because wet feet are a buzzkill. 

9. Maintain your bike

Rain means mud, and mud means a dirty bike. The dirt and grime in mud gets between your chain and the teeth on your chainring and cassette, wearing them down faster than they would normally. Wipe down your chain after wet rides with an old t-shirt as a rag and clean your chain completely when it gets really dirty. Be sure to use a wet lube to repel moisture and dirt. When using a degreaser or cleaning your chain, completely remove old lube and re-lube to ensure there doesn't get to be a build up on your chain. 

10. Wear gloves

Whipping winds and cool rain can leave your hands dry, numb, and cold. While this is obviously uncomfortable, numb hands can possibly affect your grip on the bars and turn into a safety issue. Rather than an afterthought, gloves should be a staple component of your fall cycling wardrobe. Bontrager's Velocis Windshell Glove features lightweight, windproof and water-resistant fabric to protect your hands from the elements and silicone grip on the fingers to ensure you always get a grip. As the weather turns from wet to cold, check out their Velocis Softshell Glove to keep your hands warm all season long.