Fall Cycling Tips From a Wash Cyclist

Posted by Steve Prudente on September 20, 2016

Fall into Cycling!

In case you haven’t noticed, Autumn is here!

Every new season brings changes, and your bike and riding habits are no exception.  Hear from one of our professional delivery cyclists in the latest installment of our safe cycling series, as he tells you some of the steps we take to deliver your laundry safely in the changing conditions, plus some tips for your own bike!


Tips for Safe Cycling in the Fall:

1. Tune up

The transition from Spring to Summer seems to be more gradual than the change from Summer to Autumn.  With any drastic change in temperatures, it’s a reminder to make sure all your gear is in working order.

We regularly perform basic maintenance on our bikes (oiling moving parts, checking tire pressures, cable tension, etc.).  If you’re not doing these things regularly, now is as good a time as any, as we’ll all try to squeeze as much riding as possible into the last couple months of decent weather conditions.  Get a full tune-up if you need it, because it never hurts to be as prepared as possible, right?

At the very least, I always stress checking tire pressure.  It can make all the difference in the world for your ride and your safety.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the tire wall – over-inflating can be just as dangerous as under-inflating.

 

2. Lights – not just for Friday Nights!

If you’ve read this blog before, I must sound like a boring version of “The Repeater” at this point, but I believe it’s so important that I’ll mention it again – make yourself as visible as possible.  This includes wearing bright colors, reflective gear for yourself and your bike, and using a good set of lights.  If your lights require batteries, this is probably a good time to change them, or at least purchase a replacement set.

Dawn and dusk riding are much more common this time of year, especially with Daylight Savings Time just around the corner.  Being as visible as possible greatly reduces your risk of incidents.  Our shirts aren’t orange just because it’s one of our company colors!

 

3. Gear for Changing Weather

It was a bit of a shock when I got on my bike the other day and had to go back to the house to pull out my windbreaker.  I don’t think I used it all Summer, and you can understand why I would have forgotten it.  It’s a seemingly minor thing, but looking ahead to make sure you have proper attire can make your commute (or in this case, my job) much more enjoyable.

Now that I’m in full Autumn mode, I dress in layers because I’m out fairly early in the morning when it’s chilly, but also during the mid-day sun, when it’s still pleasant enough to go with shorts and a t-shirt.  My windbreaker doubles as a rain jacket, something that’s also needed more this time of year.  Opt for gear that is as lightweight as possible, easy to stow in your backpack or cargo rack, and don’t forget your sunglasses.

 

4. Beware of Biking Hazards

The falling leaves make for some scenic rides.  They also make for quite a hazard, as they are especially slick after a rain shower.  Steer clear of leaf piles as often as possible even in dry weather, because you also don’t know what might be hiding in there – nails, broken bottles, and any number of other sharp objects could be waiting to ruin your tire.

Don’t forget that school’s back in session, and kids are at bus stops in the mornings and afternoons.  Be extra careful around school zones, and don’t try to pass a stopped school bus with flashing lights (believe it or not, I see close calls all the time).  Remember that cyclists are bound by the same traffic laws as cars.

And of course, always try to avoid roads with trolley tracks, ESPECIALLY in wet weather.

 

5. Be Predictable

The weather is sometimes unpredictable,
same as pedestrians and traffic.  Cycle defensively as often as possible.  Avoid sudden sharp maneuvers around cars and other obstacles and use your arms/hands to signal to everyone.

My delivery schedule gets pretty packed sometimes, but as often as possible, I leave as early as possible.  If I’m running late, I’ll pull over and call ahead, and I recommend you do the same.  Rushing to get anywhere rarely produces good results in any season.

 

Basically, take your time and enjoy the ride.  That’s really what it’s all about, right?  Safe cycling, everyone!

 


In addition to writing on the Wash Cycle Laundry blog, Steve Prudente is a Cycling Route Manager. He has been with Wash Cycle since October of 2014, and you can find him regularly wash cycling throughout our North Philadelphia region.