Zack Allison | Bike Sports
There are not many places like Colorado and the fall season is no exception. And as we watch the season change and try to hold on to summer as long as possible this seems to bring on more reflection and less of an urge for events, personal records and competition. Fall riding offers an enjoyable escape and even a permissible procrastination from winter preparations. A Colorado Fall brings some challenges and especially this year. With limited evening light, wildfires, air quality considerations and chilly winds, here are some helpful tips to avoid exposure and enjoy one of the best riding seasons and regions in the world. Check out these key tips for the most fun, comfortable and safe riding.
Bring Layers. Once October hits, the sun tries to make a run for it. Bring that extra layer, a wind vest or light jacket, especially when you start getting caught out at dusk more often. Those nifty pockets on the back of your cycling jersey aren’t just for holding snacks or a can of craft brew. When the temps drop, bring a jacket on your ride. Take it off and stuff it in a pocket on the climb and put it back on for a shaded descent.
With the fall season and days getting shorter, an important checklist item is a good front and rear light. With most of my 30 years on this earth riding bikes, despite my experience, I know I will get caught out in the dark. Besides being dangerous, coming into town from a long ride at dusk without lights isn’t much fun. At dusk, I leave a blinking light on my bike to save my “future self” from dodging holes and traffic.
Get your pass ahead of time for perfect fall scenery. If you’re a leaf peeker and you’re riding brings you into the high country, be aware of COVID controls in Rocky Mountain and other beloved Northern Colorado parks — before heading out, check online for restrictions and passes. With Bike Sports, we’re finding it more enjoyable to go a bit further out to new remote spots that are less likely to be crowded or to require passes or reservations.
Check air quality before you ride. With recent wildfires, air quality is a serious issue. Cooler weather and some precipitation may bring wildfires under control but watch the air quality index. Before every ride I check Purple Air to make sure the air quality is good. If the AQI is above 70, in general, I won’t ride outside. Cycling is exercise. Even if you’re going easy on a short easy ride, you’re moving hundreds, if not thousands, of liters of air through your lungs. If the air quality is poor, you can do major damage to your health. Luckily, even when the smoke has been acute when the wind changes the air can clear in no time. And we all know how quickly Colorado wind can change.
On my prep sheet, once I check all my boxes, I’m off to experience the annual fall wonders of Colorado. And if I ride enough and procrastinate enough, it will snow on the fallen leaves in my yard. Then it’s futile to try and rake them up — right?
In another month our conversation will move to ideal riding in winter. Then hopefully, the wildfires will have been put out — and we’ll all breathe a little easier.
Whitney and Zack Allison are professional cyclists and entrepreneurs. Bike Sports, their most recent venture, seeks to make gravel riding more accessible, inspire cyclists to challenge their limits and highlight Northern Colorado as a travel destination.