The long and short of fall riding

27 10 2015

It’s tough being a cyclist in October.

(Cue the crocodile tears from those cyclists who still have jobs)

There’s so many decisions to make.

There’s the bike decision:

• Good bike or “winter” bike? Honestly, who has the space to store a bike that’s just used a few months of the year? Most “winter” bikes are just upgrade orphans that their owners are too lazy to sell on Craigslist.

• Fenders or no fenders? Well, if the conditions are so sloppy I’m worried about mucking up my backside, then frankly I’d rather stay home and dry.

Then there’s the wardrobe decisions, critical to an enjoyable ride in changeable weather.

Jacket or gillet? Shoe covers or heavier socks? Full-finger gloves or open finger gloves? Summer-weight cap or one with ear flaps?

Make the wrong call, and the October ride can quickly become miserable.

But there’s no more vexing seasonal conundrum than shorts or tights?

When the weather cools down, I'm a tights guy. My leisure class riding buddy, Grant, favours shorts until the bitter end.

When the weather cools down, I’m a tights guy. My leisure class riding buddy, Grant, favours shorts until the bitter end.

Over the course of a long ride that starts early in the morning, the temperature can climb 10 degrees. Or plummet just as much if a cold front happens to be en route.

So layering and generous pocket space are orders of the day.

But it’s tough to layer the legs.

Sure, there’s knee warmers. But after a while, I just get tired of yanking them up all the time. Or somehow a seam always ends up chafing right behind my knee.

If the day is supposed to get warmer as the ride goes on, full tights can be overkill.

Knickers might work, but that look doesn’t really work with longer, wooly socks.

And this time of year, shorts can be an invitation to frost-bitten knees in the shade, or if the overcast never burns off.

First world problems, I know.

Still, it’s a glorious time to ride.

Fall is my favourite time of the year to ride.

Fall is my favourite time of the year to ride.

 

Fall rides are rewarded with crisp, clear air and vistas like this blueberry field going into hibernation.

Fall rides are rewarded with crisp, clear air and vistas like this blueberry field going into hibernation.

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