The Joys & Hazardous of Autumn Riding

Many of us, including myself, find the Autumn season one of the more enjoyable seasons to ride. The combination of crisp morning chills warming up to comfortable temperatures mixed in with the array of colors and visual spectacular that nature provides plus the abundance of season harvests to enjoy for those leisurely roadside breaks food stops make it a great time to ride; but we also need to consider that there are hazards with riding during this time of year. Here are just a few tips to always consider.

• Leaves – As festive as they may become with their display of colors, they eventually fall to the ground & roadways. Leaves piling up on roadways can be an unwanted source for loss of traction; something we very much rely on. Combine them with moisture and they can become extremely hazardous. Although we haven’t had much rain lately, the temperatures that develop morning dew or fog may be enough to dampen those leaves as well as dampen our ride. Also keep in mind that when leaves bunch up they are able to hold that moisture for some time. Constantly use your SEE (Search Evaluate Execute) strategy and make the necessary adjustments to avoid them as much as possible, especially in a cornering situation where you are leaned over. If they are not avoidable, a simple speed adjustment may be all that is needed.

• Leaf Peepers – We aren’t the only ones that enjoy this time of year, those that drive those 4 wheel contraptions are out there doing the same as what we are. As always, recognize and adjust for situations; they may be drifting from lanes, slowing down, making unforeseen stops, turns, etc. because they are focused on what they see and not what is happening around them. We always have to keep drivers in mind, adding additional visual distractions for them require us to be a bit more vigilant on both offensive & defensive riding.
• Animals – If you head into regions where wildlife may be more abundant, this is another thing to consider. Many mammals (especially deer) are in the rutting period now (mating season) and may not be fully aware of their surroundings and head into our paths of travel. Just like Male Humans that may not be thinking clearly, animals may do stupid things and are unpredictable when in "heat". Keep a watch for them. Also if you see one, there may be more to follow.

• Temps & Short Days – With the temperatures able to vary 30-40F degrees different from sunrise to sunset, you need to dress accordingly. Laying your clothing to make adjustments as needed for temperatures is extremely helpful. You may head out for a ride at 1pm when its 68F but once the sun drops you might be rolling home in 40F or less temperatures. When you’re cold while riding you may be taking on some unwanted risks that can result in delayed reactions, hypothermia, loss of attention, etc.; all things that can be easily avoided by dressing correctly for the weather. We also need to keep in mind that the available sunshine during the day lessens each day. Plan your ride properly to avoid riding at night that not only reduces your vision, but as we just discussed can be a bit colder.

Yes it’s a great time to ride and yes it can have its added risks, but most of them can easily be adjusted for to have a safe enjoyable ride. So go out and take in the splendor the season has to offer and perhaps have some pumpkin pie with some fresh cider; just keep those factors in mind and Ride Safely!

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