My favourite time of year for cycling is Autumn. The weather is cooler, the days are clear and all around you, nature is preparing for winter. Leaves are changing colour which makes for vibrant photographs of your cycling journey.
There is nothing more enjoyable than cycling through an avenue of trees with red, yellow, and orange leaves just waiting to be blown around in the autumn winds.
You need to be prepared for Autumn weather so packing an extra jumper or ensuring your rain jacket is close to the top of your pack is a good idea. Days can go from the high 20’s into the early teens once the sun slips behind a cloud or a mountain.
Some of my favourite Autumn cycling tours have been in Tuscany and Southern Austria. There are fewer people around, which means that you have the tracks to yourself. People seem more relaxed as the summer draws to a close and have more time to talk and tell you local stories and all the best places to eat or where to stop for the best views.
When we get into Autumn it is often pretty cold early in the morning and the temperature drops quickly as soon as the sun disappears. However, it can get very warm during the middle of the day. For this reason, it is good to be prepared for the varying temperatures, do this with layers that you can take off and put on so as to keep your body at a consistently comfortable temperature. It will mean stopping and starting a bit, however it is better than pushing on and realising that your core is cold which takes a long time to warm up and could result in illness.
During the Autumn months when you are cycling in Europe you can immerse yourself in the crops of the season, such as Pumpkins, sampling a favourite in Austria during this time is Pumpkin soup which is often served in a bread bowl, which you can eat afterward as it is soaked with the soup which softens it up to make it nice and chewy. Or try some Pumpkin oil drizzled on a salad or dip your bread in it, the famous ‘Green Gold’ of Austria's Styria is delicious and not to be missed.
Or sample one of the first wines of the season which in Austria is ‘Sturm’. This is a mixture between grape juice and wine, it looks cloudy a little fizzy, and carries a bit of a punch. At first, you think it is a soft drink, but it seems to have an effect from your legs up, so when you stand up you realise your mistake. Be warned!
One of the special events in the Alps during Autumn time is ‘Almabtrieb’ which is when the farmers bring the cows down from the mountain pastures for the winter season. The farmers make colourful headdresses for the cows and the matriarch of the herd will have the biggest and most colourful headdress of all. The noise of the bells and yodeling of the farmers as well as their offers of Schnapps that has been locally distilled and could possibly fuel a car, make it a sight to see.
All of this makes Autumn my favourite time of year and brings my cycling season to a close and sets me up nicely for the winter with lots of memories to see me through the colder months of the year in the Alps.