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Is autumn the best time of year to ride a bike?

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It may not be the first season that comes into your head when you think of the best times to ride your bike, but autumn can be one of the most exciting periods to get out there in the great wide world. The changeable weather conditions, while challenging, can offer up some brilliant opportunities that other times of the year cannot.

Today we’re going to be delving deeper into why autumn is the best time of year to ride a bike by looking at which new disciplines you can try out, the upcoming cyclocross season, the end of the road season, and how to chase the sun.

Trying out a different discipline

 While most cycling enthusiasts have a favourite discipline that they undertake for the majority of the season (I’m a roadie, for instance), the autumn months can provide a brilliant opportunity for you to try out a new discipline.

There are plenty of great options to choose from, but the best to try out during the autumn has to be mountain biking. The increased rainfall that occurs in the UK at this time of year means that the trails are more fun than ever to take on. Hop on your MTB and cover yourself in mud and water as you carve your way through the forest or even your local park.

You don’t need to invest in an expensive MTB to enjoy it either, most second-hand shops or online marketplaces have mountain bikes available at bargain prices. This also gives you the option of a ‘back-up’ bike should you ever need it, which is something we’d always recommend.

If getting wet and dirty isn’t your idea of a good time, there is still a plethora of great things you can do on two wheels. Something everyone should try out at least once in their life is track cycling. It’s arguably the hardest discipline in the world to master, but it can be a thrilling experience for anyone new to the sport – it’s so exhilarating you won’t even notice just how good it is for your fitness and bike handling.

If you don’t know much about track cycling, the basics are that you ride a fixed gear bike with no brakes around a velodrome as fast as you can. It may sound terrifying, and to some extent it is, but if you can get the hang of it, you’ll soon be flying around the boards like Jason and Laura Kenny.

Cyclocross is coming

 Over the past decade there has been a marked rise in the popularity of cyclocross. This thrilling variation of off-road, almost rally car-like, cycling has set pulses racing and attracted some of the peloton’s biggest stars to the start line.

Taking place in Belgium and the Netherlands primarily – but spreading like wildfire – cyclocross involves racing around a short circuit that features a variety of terrains and obstacles. This can range from mud trails to watery bogs and is almost always made more exciting when the weather decides to step in.

Though a journey across the Channel is absolutely the best way to get an authentic flavour of the culture of ‘cross, you don’t have to travel too far to give it a go. The UK has grown some stellar cyclocross stars over the years – including current world champion Tom Pidcock – so you too can find your feet on home soil. The British Cycling website is a great place to start, with an easy-to-use search engine to help you find local clubs and events. You’ll be surprised to see just how many CX leagues are held across the country.

When you’re comfortable and looking to take the next step, it’s time give the Cyclo-cross National Trophy a go. Entries are currently closed for this year’s series, which started last week in Derbyshire and will conclude in January, but the 2023 edition will once again allow riders who are not attached to professional teams to compete. You don’t have to be Zoe Bäckstedt or Tom Pidcock to give cyclocross a go.

Long rides at the end of the season

 At the end of a long and warm summer, it may be a comforting sight to see that the temperature becoming milder. The end of the regular road season can be a chance to relax for those of you that may have taken part in races or sportives throughout the year.

There are fewer races and events scheduled during this time of the year as the weather is far less reliable, which means you can use the autumn as a chance to unwind and recover from the season that has just passed.

Bringing out the trusty endurance bike that may have been locked away for months and embarking on a long ride can be a truly rewarding experience for any cyclist. Dispense with your bike computer and power metre, grab a few friends and take yourself away from the stresses of everyday life; set off on a coffee-filled adventure around the local countryside or take in the ambience of city life in the UK.

There are plenty of great places to go on long rides in this country, but if you want our advice for an ‘off the beaten track’ location, the Clwydian Range in North Wales is a fantastic place to experience by bike. The region is filled with hills and valley roads that will make for a visually stunning, yet still testing ride – oh, and there are plenty of pubs for a pit stop too.

Chasing the sun

 If autumn really isn’t your thing and you’d rather stay in the sun for just a little while longer before the true cold strikes in winter, there are plenty of places you can visit to make this dream a reality.

The best bet for catching rays is to head south where temperatures remain higher for longer. In Europe, head for Spain, Portugal and/or Italy for an autumn retreat, their Mediterranean coastlines offering up amazing vistas and tough rides in unison.

Destinations like the Balearic and Canary Islands are popular among cycling fans too, as their proximity to Africa and the equator means that temperatures stay relatively high for most of the year. There are also some famous climbs to take on such as the legendary Mount Teide on Tenerife, which is a very popular spot for professional teams to hold their training camps.

Autumn is also a cheaper time to travel than summer, so flying to these places may be easier than it was previously. All the more reason to chase the sun and beat the falling leaves.

There we have it, just a few of the reasons why autumn is the best time of year to ride a bike. Will you be taking on the challenge of cyclocross or venturing overseas for one last dose of sunshine? Either way, make sure you take out insurance with PedalCover before doing so to ensure that you are fully covered.

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