My first ride with our local cycling group was in late August, many years ago now. At the time people complimented on me on my good judgement choosing to start at the end of the cycling season but really I wasn’t doing it for the smart reasons they’d assumed. I’d bought my first road bike at the start of summer and it was only by the end of the season that I felt fast enough to ride with others. Of course, that was probably a mistake based in fear. (Catherine blogs about fear of group rides here.)
So here are some good reasons to start riding seriously in the autumn months.
First, the cooler weather is a welcome relief.
Second, the colours are so beautiful.
Third, if you’re starting riding with a group, it’s outside of racing season so lots of cycling clubs slow down, shorten distances, and pay more attention to form than going very far very fast.
My slow group of the faster cycling club in town even had some of the racer guys riding with us one fall. The racer guys were in strictly regimented training programs with coaches requiring them to submit speed, distance, and heart rate data and they were under orders to ride slow and keep their heart rates down in the off-season. Nothing like having a young man with the physique of a greyhound yell “ease up” to the chubby, middle aged woman at the front of the group. It warmed my heart and made me smile. For us, we were on a different agenda. We were finally fit and fast after a long summer of riding and the cooler weather made riding fast fun. “Suffer,” I thought about the young, fast racing guy though I did eventually slow down, just not right away.
Fourth, you think spring riding will be the thing but it’s not that great really. Race season starts early. Often the first few races are cancelled due to snow and freezing rain. Spring riding is always later than you imagine. I find local cycling groups frisky and unpredictable in the spring. In the fall people have their rhythm, our group riding skills seem finely polished but in spring, it’s rusty and awkward and fitness levels really vary between riders. Some people ride through the winter, the keen even do training camps and cycling holidays in the United States and other people have sat on their butts all winter, waiting for spring.
So get out and ride now. The roads are usually clear through til Christmas. It might be cold but there usually isn’t much snow and ice until January.