Summer may have come to an end but this doesn't mean game over for your cycling - some of the best riding is to be had in autumn. As the leaves turn from green to brown, so cycling's colours change. The colours of the road season give way to shades of cyclo-cross and our riding destinations take on a whole new aspect. So why not make Autumn your time to turn over a new leaf?
Autumn is a great time of year to get out there on the trails. Trail Centres will be a lot quieter than during the summer months, the weather will be cooler and the scenery will be all the more dramatic, with heather moorlands and woodlands turning to their autumn hues. Why not take a look at our Where to Ride resource, featuring some inspiring ride ideas, either at family friendly trail centres or on more exposed, challenging natural trails.
Classic Autumn Road Ride - Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is a stunning place to visit any time of year but the ancient woodland is at its most beautiful when the leaves start to turn from green to brown. Better still, for cyclists, the Forest is criss-crossed with a multitude of quiet, narrow country lanes that climb and descend the steep sides of the Wye Valley and pass though deciduous woodland glades that clothe the flanks of the valleys. The Forest of Dean Spring Classic is a long running sportive, that takes place every May over a cracking 85 mile course starting and finishing over the Welsh border in Monmouth. Why not enter the 2012 event and recce the route, enjoying the full glory of the autumn colours? We rode the route in 2010. Check out the report.
For many cyclists, Autumn means only one thing - ‘Cross. Dedicated ‘cross riders will be putting the final touches to their training and preparation. Roadies who just don't know when to stop will be hanging up their tarmac bikes and pumping up the knobblies in preparation for another autumn and winter of mud, sweat and glory, staged in parks, fields and woods around the country.
The Three Peaks Cyclocross race, which took place this year on 25th September in the Yorkshire Dales, is the annual gathering of the ‘cross clans and the monument which signals the start of cross season. The numbers say it all. 38 miles (20 off road, 18 on road), 5000ft of climbing. Three brutal ascents (Ingleborough, Whernside, Pen y Ghent) and around 500 riders battling against gravity, terrain and the elements. An awesome spectacle for any sports and outdoor fan. Check out our full report from this year's race here.
Autumn also sees the start of the Cyclo Cross National Trophy, beginning in South Shields and ending in Shrewsbury on 12th January 2012. Watch top riders from the UK and abroad do battle over six rounds to lift the coveted ‘cross National Trophy.
If you're looking for a way into cycle sport, cyclo-cross is perhaps the perfect way to start. As well as the big events like the Three Peaks and the National Trophy, autumn sees the return of regional cyclo-cross leagues. These smaller, friendly local events are easy and cheap to enter (just turn up with a bike, buy a day licence and go), and mountain bikes are permitted too. Races last for around an hour, there are categories for everyone from Under 12s (who race free) to Veterans. To find out more check out our Get Into Cyclo-Cross page.
In the past few years, the sportive scene has expanded massively, both in the number of events to choose from and the length of the season, which now stretches from early spring to the edge of winter. A few years ago, there were only a few autumn sportives to choose from. Now the sportive calendar is full right through to November.
The final Sky Ride city event took place in Glasgow on the 11th and saw 14,000 say a sad goodbye to what has been an amazing summer of Sky Rides. However, Glasgow Sky Ride isn't the end of the line for 2011. Sky Ride Local and Breeze women's only bike rides continue through autumn in all the cities visited by Sky Ride this year, with rides for all abilities led by qualified British Cycling Ride Leaders. Whether you're a spring chicken or you're in the autumn of your cycling years, there's sure to be a ride for you!