We’ve recently hit true fall weather in MN, with morning temps consistently in the mid-40s to mid-50s °F (that’s like 7-13 °C for normal parts of the world.) This is the temperature range where biking can start to be uncomfortably cold for many riders, especially in everyday clothes. BUT it’s also a part of the year when biking can be really gorgeous and -just a teeny bit- of useful gear may make it totally comfortable in ways that even largish amounts of slightly ridiculous gear don’t entirely achieve in the dead of winter.
Things to put on your body
Gloves. I like full-finger wind-blocking bike gloves (I have these, and especially like the reflective patches for signaling turns, but YMMV.)
A colleague recently told me that she likes lightweight knit gloves at this time of year, for the breathability. I find the breathability of the bike gloves pretty good, and appreciate the grip on the palms. (Lest you think I’m too big a fan of single-purpose clothing – my retired pair of full-finger gloves (got a hole in one finger) is my go-to for moving furniture in my house. Due to the grippiness of the palms, without sweaty insulation.)
Head-covering – note, probably NOT a hat. This is the time of year my ears can start to get cold while riding, but once I’m moving, it’s definitely too warm for a hat. I use “Buff” headbands to cover my ears, and the “half-Buff” scarfy things for a lightweight most-of-the-head covering if it’s particularly chilly. A different colleague down the hall who rides a bit more than twice as far as I do also uses these. (We both use them in warm and cool weather; they’re useful as sweatbands, too. And in a pinch, as a neck covering if I forget to sunscreen.)
Also wool socks & shirts, maybe? I wear mine from, like, mid-September through to mid-May or early June. This time of year is great for a wool long-sleeve shirt with a t-shirt over it in the morning, and then if things warm up, just the t-shirt on the way home! My longest-lasting wool socks are from Fox River. My most comfy wool shirts are from Smartwool, but they’re -spendy- (like, I only get those on -big- sale). I have several Terramar wool shirts that are much more affordable & holding up well, but theirs all seem to be blends now. I’ve also got one from LLBean that’s holding up well and was a bit more affordable.
Things to put on your bike
LIIIIIIIIGHTS. Always and forever lights. At the -very least, FFS, a headlight and a taillight-.
In summer, maybe you don’t end up riding in the dark that often (especially this far north.) But this time of year, it is getting dark a lot earlier!!! Also, it is rainy and/or grey-skied more often!! So YOU ARE HARDER TO SEE, regardless of how well -you- can see.
I was driving last night & saw a guy on a tallish recumbent around dusk, and he was just SO invisible. Didn’t see him until I was close enough that it’d’ve been dangerous if I’d been turning towards him.
Also reflectors. And maybe, since getting wet is way more of a problem in cold weather than in warm, a fender? Or the extremely high-tech solution I employ to reduce spray from my back wheel…
Now I’m gonna go ride home, in the dark, in my gloves & scarf & WITH MY SEVERAL LIGHTS.