Autumn awaits

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.

Some tips:

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.


  1. Ghost Rider

    I have to say that I am really excited by the prospect of a “real” autumn here in Ohio…something I haven’t experienced in over 20 years.

  2. Iron_Man

    We’ve been getting some record cold mornings here in SW Missouri. The temps this week have been in the mid 40’s. I can hear my body saying, “Are you thinking of riding through the winter again? Really?!”

    When traveling north or south be extra cautious of motorists at intersections who are to the left of you, that are being blinded by the sun. It’s easy enough for we cyclists to get lost in the front pillar of their car, between the windshield and passenger window, under normal circumstances let alone when the sun has gone supernova in their face. A pullout is all too common in that situation.

  3. Guy

    I look forward to Autumn because it’s our summer in San Francisco. This year has been very cool and I look forward to the heat.

  4. BluesCat

    After dodging the blistering sun, and 110+ heat for two months in Phoenix, I look forward to fall and winter biking in a room-temperature environment!

  5. Elizabeth

    If the rain we’ve had here in the Chicago area this past week is any indication of what’s to come, I know I’m already looking for the next best protection from the cold fall rain. Brr! Goes right through me!

    Lights and hi-vis clothing in the dawn and dusk times are key! And layers… the right ones are highly packable and perfect when the weather turns a bit cooler (or rainier)…

  6. Graham

    Are ya’ll sure Autumn’s coming? I haven’t had even a breath of cool air here on the NC coast yet. But if you say it’s on the way I’ll try and tough it out through this last cloud of mosquitoes!

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