Autumn in Wales brings spectacular colours and an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful scenic rides. However, we need to take extra care as this time of year also brings additional hazards for us as bikers.
The clocks going back and shorter days mean more riding in the dark, so we need to make sure all of our lights are working correctly and wear gear with reflective strips to make ourselves as visible as possible.
Autumn weather conditions are notoriously changeable; cold nights can catch you unprepared and lower temperatures bring morning frost. It’s good to remember that shaded areas and bridges will take longer to thaw and may still be wet and icy long after the sun starts shining.
Dressing appropriately for the conditions is a must as it’s particularly tiring riding for long periods when you’re cold, so keep warm! Avoid kit that’s too bulky - it can make you even more tired and the added weight can affect how you ride. Investing in heated gear can make a huge difference to a long journey, even if it’s just a pair of heated gloves.
Regular breaks and staying hydrated will help to keep you alert; take a look at the links page for rest stops in Wales and across the border. Make sure you’ve always got enough fuel and if you’re out on your own then tell others where you are heading; remember that your phone signal can be intermittent, particularly in rural parts.
Another consequence of shorter days is that the sun is much lower in the sky and glare can be blinding at times. Watch out when riding on tree lined routes - as leaves are shed the ‘strobe-effect’ patterns of light and shade created can be really distracting. Leaves on the road can hide potholes and manhole covers, and wet slippery leaves can appear unexpectedly in shaded areas – certainly something none of us want to encounter!
As we all know (or maybe not...) deer breeding season gets underway shortly, so deer will be more mobile than usual, bringing them onto roads and increasing the risk of collisions. Be especially vigilant at dusk and dawn.
With fewer riders venturing out over the next couple of months, drivers are possibly less likely to be expecting to see us out on our bikes. So make yourself as conspicuous as possible and help avoid the dreaded “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”.
Enjoy your ride, enjoy Wales and make this season one to remember for all of the right reasons.