With a slight melancholic sigh we slowly say farewell to a fantastic summer. We enjoy the last sunny warm days, the leaves are turning red and golden. Soon they will stick to the sidewalks, brown and muddy, accompanied by strong autumn storms and rainy days. We are secretly dreaming that this summer will never end, but we know the fall is coming and the winter will follow and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But that doesn’t mean we have to get melancholic too. According to the well-known slogan “there’s not bad weather just unsuitable clothing” we will demonstrate the opposite.
Get your bike ready for autumn.
Tires | In the fall muddy trails and wet roots may cause a sliding adventure. Get ready and modify your bike: wide tires with rough self-cleaning profile are the ideal equipment for cycling in the fall. They will ensure maximum grip and safety on mudslides. You don’t want to end up lying on your couch with a broken collar bone!
Light | A further uncomfortable drawback of fall season: the days are getting shorter and it’s getting dark earlier. Therefore you should have proper lights for the front and rear. Standard bike lights will not be sufficient for riding on dark trails and illuminating your path. If you do not want to invest in strong bike lights for the dark fall and winter season you might as well use a headlight which is also convenient in your camp. According to the current road traffic regulations in Germany rechargeable lights are permitted for off-road use and forest trails.
Pedals | Clipless pedals provide a high level of control while riding fast or executing moves like hopping up on to curbs or over logs. Your feet won’t bounce off the pedals as you apply power or while riding through the bumps. However, once you are sliding and your shoes are still fixed into the cleat it might be advisable to change to combination pedals allowing you to disengage prior to difficult sections and to react faster.
Bags | The nice Indian summer will inevitably turn into autumn with wet days and rain. Waterproof panniers are a must have for bike touring in the fall. The worst part of touring in the rain is arriving in the evening at your destination with soaked clothes.
Proper clothing is essential
Basics | Be prepared for bad wheather. Don’t forget to bring rain pants, a rain jacket, a warm insulating layer and overshoes for biking in the fall. For longer or overnight trips you should also bring themal underwear, a cap and gloves. Once the temperatures drop it is important to stay dry and warm. Put on your rain gear when it starts to rain, and don’t wait too long! A rainy period in the fall is colder than a refreshing shower in the summer time. Once you are getting cold and damp it can be hard to get warm again.
Down or synthetic jacket? | We recommend an insulating jacket or a warm fleece jacket for cool mornings and evenings. Both down and synthetic jackets will keep you warm and toasty, however, we recommend synthetic insulation; it is designed to replicate the qualities of down, but retains them even when wet. In addition synthetic insulation is much more resistant to moisture, and when it does get wet it dries faster whereas down will lose its insulating power when it becomes wet and takes a long time to dry out.
Keep a set of dry gear | Always bring one set of dry clothes. This is an important rule for biking in the fall. We always pack a set of merino underwear, as merino moves moisture as a vapor. Even if the stuff you were wearing the day before cycling in the rain hasn’t dried out, you need to put it on. Once packed away in your pannier it might start to smell, but when damp it will dry quickest worn on your body thanks to wool’s effective moisture management.
Shoes | Tough and waterproof shoes are a must. Be prepared to carry or push you bike along muddy passages.
Camping in autumn?
Camping | If you like camping even in the fall you should definitely bring a waterproof tent or bivi bag, and if the latter, possibly a tarp. Your setup should be wind proof. Before you pitch up your tent in the woods, check the trees around you. Do not camp underneath rotten branches or dead trees. This is a general rule, but most important in the fall when to expect storms. Another suggestion: have a piece of chocolate or an energy bar before you go to bed: this will give you an extra bit of energy allowing your body to maintain its temperature during a frosty night.
Shelters | Refuges and shelters are a welcome alternative to a tent. You will often find them in German forests or in the Alps. They offer a welcome shelter for hikers and bikers and may also serve as overnight camp. At least you will have a roof protecting you from rain and wind. The advantage is you will not have to pack a wet tent. Refuges are indicated with a specific symbol in apps such as OpensourceStreetMap and Alpinequest.
Bed + Bike | If you prefer some comfort, the platform bett+bike displays bike-friendly hostels and hotels. These hotels provide a safe storage room for bicycles and welcome muddy and wet bikers.
Warmshower | The website https://www.warmshowers.org/ is a pendant to couchsurfing. People are offering their homes to cyclists. Warmshowers, however, is for bikers only. This overnight version requires planning ahead and it doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility. Those who enjoy getting in touch with locals will love staying with a nice host and sharing memories sipping hot tea instead of camping in the rain.
Now get your bicycle out of the garage, pack your gear and get into the saddle, despite the weather. Maybe the hardest thing is to get going despite not so ideal conditions. We recommend: do not study the weather forecast, simply go, without any excuses. Don’t hesitate, keep on biking!
Written by Franzi from Tales on Tyres