For mountain bikers, the seasonal change of Autumn is the beginning of the most popular form of racing in our country. This is when the salt-of-the-earth mountain bikers come out to play for the marathon and endurance racing calendar.
Over the coming months around Australia we can look forward to events like the Mont 24 in Canberra, Victoria’s Wombat 100, NSW’s Convict100, Tassie’s MTN Trails Hillibilly, not to mention entire Subaru Australian MTB Series….That doesn’t even touch the sides, we realise; but all these races are known for their tough nature and unpredictable weather.
Much to our displeasure, we can't control either of these factors, but we can point you in the direction of some nifty products to make your Autumn riding that much more enjoyable. Full disclosure, we haven't used every product out there (yet), but this doesn't mean we won't try and assist you with some quality choices to enhance your Autumn riding experience.
Back to Bases
The first place we'd recommend starting when the temperature starts to drop is a quality undershirt or base layer. Our personal favourite fabric is Merino Wool, many brands are embracing this natural wonder product and it works perfect during the change of seasons. I'm sure you've all heard more than one advertisement promoting the cooling and heating properties of wool. The following are a few products we like the look of;
Once you've found a suitable base layer to get you through the changing conditions, our next place to look would be your exposed arms. A decent set of arm warmers is a staple of any cyclist’s wardrobe. When you are out on the bike in cooler conditions, the arms are very susceptible to feeling the chill but also act as a point of contact between you and the surrounding foliage on the trails. A pet peeve of mine is a damp tree flicking moisture all over me when I'm otherwise dry. I'm a wuss, but so be it. Here's a couple of great options for keeping your arms warm and dry;
For the feet
With your arms under control, the next place to look in our opinion is your feet. Cold or wet feet are not the end of the world, but they can certainly make a ride significantly more uncomfortable. Some people attack this dilemma with thicker wool socks, others make the move to waterproof booties and the extra enthusiastic will pack away their trusty summer slippers in favour of a proper winter shoe. Once again, we'll call upon the magic of wool for our socks and I'd suggest a neoprene based bootie specifically for mountain bike riding. One little tip with booties, you're out mountain bike riding and trail conditions are out of your control. A thin road style shoe cover might look and feel great, but it's no good to you when it's got holes in it. Here's a few pieces for your feet to help keep you warm on the coldest of nights;
Here comes the rain….
The last piece of clothing advice I'll give is the need for a quality jacket. According to Murphy's Law storms will always hit when you're in the worst possible location or at the furthest point from your destination. We try and delay the carrying of jackets, but now's the time to start thinking about it at the very least. Rain jackets have a huge variance in pricing and quality. If you want something to save your backside from a freak downpour, then you can get away with a jacket that won't break the bank. If you plan to spend extended periods riding in the rain, then a good breathable jacket is a must! Here's a few we don't mind;
Another handy device is something that keeps the water off your phone. We always recommend carrying a phone when you are riding. Aside from spicing up our Instagram accounts, they've also saved us from more than a few tough situations. Mountain bike riding puts you at risk and a working phone might be all the difference in a time of need, as confirmed by our very own Bret Murray on the weekend! A water proof case is a must;
If you take one thing away from this, now is the time to start being prepared. Unless you're riding for a living, you want to make the most of any saddle time you can get. We hope to see you on the trails sometime soon!