Cycling in autumn can sometimes feel bitter sweet. There are stunning sharp mornings where the sun is high and the sky is blue - but the lack of cloud cover means any blanket of warmth is removed. On other days, the rain pours down and it all just feels a bit like a funeral for the summer months.
[related_articles]The changeable weather can feel disheartening, and many riders do cut down on the time they spend on their bikes. This is a shame - because once you get past the inconvenience of deciding what to wear, autumn is one of the best seasons for cyclists. There is no reason that you - dear reader - should hang up your bike for a long hibernation.
Here are just some of the reasons cycling through autumn is an excellent idea (and we don't suggest you stop come winter, either)...
Cycling Can Help Beat SAD
We know that mental illness is different for everyone - we would never claim a bike ride is a one size fits all cure. However, for some people, cycling can genuinely have a positive effect, allowing for time to think, freedom, an increase in confidence and the release of positive hormones.
In the case of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - low mood and depression that occurs as the days get shorter - spending more time outside is documented to have a positive effect.
The primary theory behind SAD is that a lack of sunlight could stop the hypothalamus working properly, affecting hormone production and the body clock. So, making time to ride at lunch time, or adjusting your working hours so you can ride before or after work, is a good idea .
You Can Find the Perfect Temperature with Layers
In summer, when you're too hot - there isn't a lot you can actually do about it. In winter - well - there are lots of clever gloves and overshoes but we can't say you'll always be snuggly and warm.
Autumn dressing is all about layering - arm and leg warmers, gilets, oversocks all mean you can layer up when you leave, and strip off as your body temperature rises. Autumn and spring are basically the only seasons when you really can find the absolute perfect body temperature.
All Your Pictures are Suddenly Awesome
Love to capture that perfect shot to get your Instagram notifications buzzing all day? Fancy yourself as a budding photographer? Now is your time.
When we spoke to professional photographer and videographer Toby Martin for his tips on capturing the best cycling pictures, he told us: "Low light conditions create dramatic lighting – spring and autumn are the best seasons to fully embrace this."
Best get snapping then!
Mud is Softer
Mountain bikers know that a little rain goes a long way in transforming the conditions on the trails.
Dry trails can be easy to get up to speed on, but soft mud adds to the technical challenge, and also makes for a much softer landing should it all go a bit wrong!
Cyclocross is Awesome
Speaking of mud - the cyclocross season kicks off in September. Cyclocross races - 40 to 60 minute events in muddy fields across the UK - are great fun.
There are plenty of athletes who make CX their priority, but you don't need to be an experienced rider to have a go, and you can compete on a mountain bike.
CX racing is open to everyone, and it's basically a chance to swap long base miles in the rain for high intensity blasts around the park - and a little bit like being a kid all over again!
Check out these tips from expert racer Annie Simpson to get you ready for your first race (and help you progress if you've already tried it!)
Trails and Roads are Quieter
It's not that we're anti-social... we do like having company, sometimes. It's just that at other times we like to have the roads and trails to ourselves, and over autumn we definitely notice we get a bit more of that.
It's Time to Get the Competitive Edge
Ok - so maybe this one is a bit harsh... but have your riding buddies stopped getting out because the sun isn't shining so brightly?
Well - now might be the time to start building up those miles ready to steal all the Strava QOM's...
Night Riding is Magical
Did you think that the days getting shorter meant less time to ride? It doesn't have to.
With the right set of lights (you need 1,000 lumens + for a good experience) you can hit the roads or trails just as you would during the day.
A proper light literally shows the road just like a car headlights, and there's something truly magical about blasting around on quiet roads with your thoughts (and perhaps a good buddy) for company, along side the occasional bunny. The world looks different at night time, and everything is always so still that you can hear your breath and feel your heart beat in your chest. Try it, you won't regret it.
Anything else you love about riding in autumn? We're sure there's more - let us know!