Archive for October 2013

Fall Riding   Leave a comment

bicycle-world-ny-riding-in-the-fall-600There is no better time to ride than fall.  This is a fact, not simply an opinion.  Granted, summer brings warmer temperatures, and longer days.  Spring combines mild weather, and the opportunity to get back outside as winter releases its grip.  Winter rides can be a refreshing and challenging way to take on the cold.  But pound-for-pound, fall is the undisputed champ.

 Why is fall the king of the riding seasons?  Several reasons.  First, from a weather perspective, the best fall days are an unbeatable combination of mild temperatures that reside in that perfectly balanced zone where it’s neither too warm nor too cool.  If you get too cool, ride up a hill to warm up.  Too warm? Find a flat or downhill road, bump up your speed and cool off.

Next, from a fitness perspective, if you’ve been riding all spring and summer, your fitness is likely still at a fairly high level in the fall.  This allows you to ride longer and more comfortably than you could during similar spring weather.  What might have been a long and challenging ride in April, is likely much easier to accomplish (and enjoy) from a physical perspective in October.

Fall is mentally the superior season to ride.  During spring and summer, many cyclists are targeting specific training goals, or following rigid training plans.  The shorter fall days result in an inability to train at the same levels, and with the road cycling season winding down, the pressure associated with “training” goes away.  This “pressure release” allows riders to put away the hardcore training plans, and go out to ride for the simple enjoyment of being on your bike, and squeezing the last days out of the season.

Ok, so now that we’ve established that fall is the best time to get out on a bike, there are some things that you need to keep in mind riding this time of year to fully enjoy it.

Riding apparel:  The range of temperatures you’ll encounter in fall (or spring for that matter) will require more versatile clothing choices.  Cooler temps might require warmer socks and/or windproof shoe or toe covers to keep your toes warmer.  Arm and/or leg warmers are another versatile option for staying warm during cooler parts of the day, and can be removed during the warmest parts of your ride.  A cycling cap under your helmet can help keep your head warmer on a cool fall ride.  Light weight, full-fingered gloves can be a great option for keeping your digits from getting over-chilled when the temperature starts to drop.  Finally, my top secret weapon for cool-weather riding is the classic cycling vest.  A windproof vest will keep your core warm but can be opened up or removed if you get too hot.  A warm core, will actually keep your extremities warmer.  As your core temperature drops, your body automatically starts to divert heat away from your extremities to keep your core warm.  If your core stays warm in the first place, your circulation stays normal, keeping your hands and toes warm.

Leaves:  I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with leaves through the years.  I don’t like raking them, but I do like watching them change color.  Falling/fallen leaves benefit cyclists by making it easier for you to see further down the road, and around corners that are “blind” when the foliage is in full bloom.  On the other hand, fallen/falling leaves can create a variety of hazards.  Visually, the strobe effect between shade and sun is exaggerated when the leaves are off the trees, and can be disorienting.  Leaf-less trees block less wind and provide less shade and protection than the same trees in full bloom.  Finally (and I’m speaking from recent experience here), those pesky leaves can be downright hazardous on the road.  Wet leaves on the road are as slippery as ice, so be careful and slow down before entering turns where there may be leaves on the ground.  Leaves can also mask hazards on the road or trail.  If you do encounter leaves that can’t be avoided, try not to turn or brake as you ride over them.  If possible, make any turns or speed adjustments before or after the leaves, while your tires are still in contact with the pavement.

Daylight:  In our area, we’ll get upwards of 15 hours of daylight in mid-summer.  In October, we’re down to approximately 11 hours of daylight.  If you ride in the morning or evening, your window for riding has shrunk.  Less available riding time, however, is only half the battle.  The sun is also getting lower on the horizon, and there are fewer leaves to block the sun when it’s low in the sky.  As a result, road glare on car windshields increases significantly as you head in the direction of the sun.  This makes it much harder for drivers to see you when driving heading into a rising or setting sun.  This glare, even for just a few seconds, can make cyclists literally invisible to oncoming cars.  To deal with this issue, it’s a good idea to plan your routes so that you minimize the amount of time you’ll be riding into a rising or setting sun.  While this is good advice for any season, it’s especially true this time of year.  Finally, it’s always a good idea to bring along some lights and wear reflective clothing if you think you may not make it home before dark.

Bottom line, fall is a great time to get out and ride.  Go enjoy it before the snow hits.

In Other News…..

This edition of the blog marks the 1 year anniversary of the Bicycle World Blog.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it over the past year, and we hope to keep it going.  With that in mind, if there are any topics you’d like us to cover, or any questions or comments regarding anything we’ve posted, let us know and we can address them in future posts.

Last year, we launched the blog with coverage of Bicycle World’s annual Ridley Ride.  This year’s Ridley Ride took place last Sunday, October 6th.  For some background on Belgian cycling and the inspiration behind the Ridley Ride, go back and read our coverage from last year.  This year’s ride was another smashing success.  Despite mist and drizzle, a group of about 20 hearty riders went out to enjoy a ride that featured some “Belgian-style” roads followed by more “Belgian-style” refreshments afterward.  Despite the drizzle, the temperatures were warm enough to keep everyone reasonably comfortable during the ride.

This year, one of the cool things I noticed was the expanding range of bikes (all Ridleys) that were on display.  My own 2007 Excalibur had a couple of twin brothers on the ride, along with the updated version of the bike.  There were a handful of Ridley’s top-end road bikes represented by a handful of Noahs and Heliums in the mix.  There were even a couple of Ridley’s top-rated cyclocross bikes in attendance with both X-Fire and X-Night models in attendance.  The beefier construction, knobby tires, and disc brakes gave these bikes a distinct advantage on the dirt section of the ride that ran along the south shore of the Croton Reservoir.  When we rolled into our mid-ride coffee stop, a customer at the Black Cow asked if we were “Team Ridley”.

Thanks to Eric, Ben, and Benny for hosting all of us on the ride.  As always it was a great time.

So that’s it for this edition of the blog.  For a change of pace, and in keeping with the Ridley ride theme, I’m going to add something new for this edition:  the first ever Bicycle World Trivia Challenge.  Be the first to submit the correct answer to this month’s trivia challenge, and you will not only receive fame, fortune, and bragging rights associated with being the win, but Bicycle World will also provide you with a lifetime supply of free air for your tires!

Here’s the question:  How many cyclocross world championships have been won on Ridley bikes, who was riding those bikes, and what years did these victories occur?

Good luck. Keep riding.

Advertisements

Posted October 14, 2013 by bicycleworldny in Cycling in Fall

Tagged with ,