With the coming change of seasons, now is a great time to reevaluate your commute. With fall’s arrival we can begin to appreciate cooler temperatures, lower humidity, and beautiful fall foliage. If you’ve been interested in trying to commute to work by bicycle, now is an ideal time of year to give it a shot; or if you’re already an avid bike commuter, you’re probably thinking about switching to some warmer clothing. For those that prefer to take transit, fall offers some of the most pleasant conditions for your walk to the bus or Metro stop.
Commuting during the summer months, especially by bike, can be a hot and sweaty ordeal. For many people the climate can be a deterrent to try bike commuting, especially if their place of employment doesn’t offer shower facilities. However, the fall is ideal for people without showers at work because it is very easy to stay cool and sweat-free while riding due to the lower temperatures and humidity.
The cooler fall temperatures require a bit more versatility in bike commuting clothes as well. Shorts and a t-shirt might work for the summer but you are going to want some layers for riding in the fall so you can regulate your body temperature more effectively. There’s no need to go out and spend a lot of money on expensive lycra jackets or pants but carrying a few clothing accessories can make all the difference in enjoying your ride. Gloves are great to keep your hands protected from the brisk air as you’re riding; just make sure you are able to grip the handles and brakes well with whatever gloves you choose to wear.
A long sleeve shirt and a windbreaker should be enough to keep you warm; once you have been pedaling for a bit, you’ll probably want to unzip the jacket some so you don’t get too warm. Some people experience stiffer joints with the cooler weather so it is not unheard of for people to wear some sort of warmers around their knees. You may find this unnecessary but knee warmers are small enough that you can keep them in your jacket pocket in case you do need them.
In addition to the warmer clothing needed for fall bike commuting is one very important practice: stretching. Stretching, even just a bit, before and after your ride will make your entire commuting experience much more enjoyable and allow you to ride day-after-day if you wish. Without adequate stretching you run the risk of pulling a muscle and then your commute, regardless of the mode you choose, will be rather unpleasant.
On top all of all these considerations is safety. It is beginning to get darker earlier now so be sure to where bright clothing – no dark colors. Consider wearing a high-visibility jacket or helmet cover to make yourself more noticeable. Reflective gear is great and blinky lights are an absolute must-have. The more noticeable you make yourself, the safer you will be on your commute.
So get on out there and enjoy the beauty of the fall season! Do you change you commuting habits depending on the weather or season? What works best for you?