The evenings are getting darker, and we’ve had to dig out our raincoats and woolly jumpers a few too many times. It can mean only one thing…Autumn is well and truly on the way.
But just because the clocks are turning back soon doesn’t mean you have to put the family bikes away.
In fact, autumn can be one of the most rewarding seasons for family rides; it’s not too hot and the trees are about to start giving a spectacular show.
If you're out and about cycling, these 5 tips should help you stay safe and have fun during your bike rides:
1: Choose Quality
Cycling in Autumn invariably means you’ll have to contend with the worst (or best) of the British weather. Which let’s face it often means rain! Making sure you’re riding a quality bike that is designed to face the elements is a must.
These are the things to look out for when choosing a bike that you can ride on inclement days:
Tyres: Arguably, the tyres are the most crucial part that determines a bike's performance in poor weather. In the wet it’s important to have tyres that are grippy and won’t loose traction in on muddy tracks or wet grass.
Mudguards: It goes without saying that when it rains, and even for the days after, there’s going to be spray on the trails and tarmac that will get you wet. If your kids are anything like ours then they’ll probably relish that (for 5 minutes at least), but if you do want to keep them dry then choosing mudguards are the way to go. Frog’s new City Bike range comes fully kitted out with mudguards to keep you dry on the school run.
Brakes: It's essential that you have brakes that can cope well in rainy or frosty weather. All of our kids bikes have dependable brakes, for example, the Squish bikes have brake levers that have been especially designed for small hands, and offer great braking performance.
Keeping your bike in good nick is just as important as choosing it in the first place, and the wet weather can play havoc with parts. If your frame and tyres get muddy then give them a wash with soapy water and a sponge after your ride.
Your chain will need special attention in wet conditions and should be cleaned with a good degreaser before being rinsed off with clean water. Once clean make sure to relubricate your chain with bike specific lubricant to keep it running smoothly.
Your brakes can also take a real beating in the wet and brake pads wear down faster. Keep an eye on them and replace if necessary.
2: Use Bright Lights
Safety always comes first when you’re out riding and as the evenings get darker it’s sensible to make sure you have good quality, bright lights on your bike at all times. Not to mention it’s a legal requirement to have lights on your bike from an hour either side of sunrise or sunset.
Ultimately, you need to have lights that are bright enough for every road user to see you from all directions.
3: Make the Most of the Season
So far we’ve only really spoken about the negative bits of Autumn but it can be one of our favourite times of year to ride. At this time of year there are fascinating changes going on in nature that can make for some awesome family activities.
Try creating a scavenger hunt list and getting the kids to find everything on the list. From different coloured leaves to acorns and feathers there’s plenty to explore out there.
Set challenges to keep the kids entertained and active – race each other to different trees in the park or see who’s the first one up the hill. Burning off that excess energy is one way to try and get your little explorers (and you) a good night’s sleep!
4: Wrap Up Warm
We get it. When the cold bites, you’d much rather be inside with the heating on, drinking a hot chocolate... ☕️
That's why wearing plenty of layers to keep yourself warm and protected against the elements is vital - not only for your health, but also so you keep motivated.
We recommend having the correct clothing needed to go out, so that 'bad weather' never stops you from having fun on two wheels! A good breathable waterproof will keep you dry from the outside without you getting too sweaty. Pair that with a breathable insulating layer (try and avoid too much cotton) and you’re good to go.
5: Plan Your Routes
To ensure you’re all kept safe on your family bike rides, it may be wise to plan your routes before you cycle.
Komoot is a great online service that allows users to plan routes.
Winter shouldn’t mean you can’t go out and cycle. Yes, it provides more challenges, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking your bike out for a spin.
If you follow these 5 tips, we hope you agree that you'll be able to enjoy cycling on your own or as a family, whatever the conditions.