September 23rd marks the beginning of fall this year. Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah for many cyclists in the US. Here in the Kansas City area, all the big charity rides are over with, and all the big bicycle club rides happened back in August. For many, this is the transition to “indoor training” season. Chains are cleaned. Tires are deflated just a bit. Those hooks screwed into the basement rafters or that out-of-the-way corner of the apartment becomes an increasingly frequent home for the bike.
Perhaps it’s because I started bike commuting in September 2006, but I have a certain fondness for bicycling through autumn. After a summer of blistering heat indexes and humidity that’s thick enough to swim through, I welcome the crisp, cool mornings and the mild evenings with the sun at my back.
Now is the perfect time to get started with layering your clothes. You might find that a pair of knee warmers, a headband, some light gloves and a windbreaker are the perfect solution to chilly mornings. Leave them packed away for the warmer evening trips. If you get good at layering, riding in below-freezing weather becomes easy.
Days are getting shorter, so be sure to keep your lights charged or carry a backup. Be seen with high-visibility clothing.
Mind the location of the sun. If you find yourself riding directly into the rising or setting sun, you’ll be very hard to spot in the lane as squinting motorists try to deal with the blinding glare. Try riding earlier or later, or pick another route with more shade, a slightly different heading or less traffic.