|Not a fashion statement!|
Fall is a GREAT time to commute to/from work by bike in DC - low humidity, crisp, blue skies, and a lot less sweat. BUT, fall cycling requires some prep work. With just a few accoutrements - you can enjoy a safe and comfortable commute as we go into the season...and beyond.
1) A helmet! With shorter days and the way DC drivers drive, you've got to protect yourself. Even if you're on a Capital BikeShare bike, PLEASE use a helmet! (Yes, your Mom asked me to write that, but she's right!)
2) Illuminate and reflect: Just because DC streets are well lit and you don't need lights to see where you're going, once the sun even begins to set, your visibility as a cyclist - to cars, other cyclists, and pedestrians - catapults into near oblivion. Help us ALL out and invest in lights whether you cycle on trails or roads, and put them on the front and back of your bike. Battery powered front (white) bike lights don't last that long..and go through too many batteries. A NiteRider rechargeable front light costs a bit, but after 5 years and daily use for 6 mos of the year, mine is still as bright as a car headlight when charged - which I do daily for about an hour. I use red, flashing battery powered lights on the back of my bike and on my backpack. I've got stick-on reflectors on my bike, helmet, and backpack ...and I just invested in some bike string lighting that outlines the frame of my bike. Buy a bike vest! Be seen!!
3) Gloves: You'll need a good pair soon. The way your hands wrap around the brakes really exposes your fingers and can make them immovable ..so you can't brake ..if they aren't protected. Insulated gloves are best..and as the weather gets colder...put on a thin glove and put a heavier pair over those. Gloves don't have to be expensive...they just need to be insulated. They can't be too bulky - or you won't be able to brake. In winter, slip in some charcoal hand warmers. Tooooooasty!
4) A medium sized plastic bag or plastic shower cap - just the thing for covering your bike seat when you stop for that warm cup of coffee when it starts to rain.
5) A woolish type scarf: The wind can really cut through to your neck on a ride. A neck warmer/scarf allows you to turtle in and keep at least part of your face and neck warmer.
6) A thin skull cap or head band will protect your ears from the cold and still allow you to wear your helmet.
7) Layering: An old pair of tights (or two) or longjohns under whatever pants/skirts you bike in will help keep your legs warm - even bike pants. In winter, ski pants and tights are great.
8) Shoe covers: somehow the top of the foot where it meets ankle gets miserably cold on morning commutes. As the mornings get colder, shoe covers really help. Be sure to get a size that will fit over the type of shoe you wear as many are designed to fit over clip in bike shoes.
REI and Bike Nashbar are good on-line sources for bike gear...and there are many more. DC is blessed with lots of locally owned bike shops as well: Capitol Hill Bikes, District Hardware, Revolution Cycles, just to name a few. Mostly, have fun and enjoy the season!