It really wouldn’t be too far out of line for all of us to give each other collective high fives and perhaps even a great big group hug. After all, each and every one of us are survivors of what is being touted as the “hottest summer on record”, which apparently beats out last year, the old “hottest summer on record”.
And what a summer it was. Lengthy stretches of torridly hot days, heavy with humidity, dry and dusty trails and sleepless nights. As a rule, when the summer heat becomes too much to bear, the bike paths and bike shops become noticeably emptier. Since this was a standout summer weather wise, why shouldn’t this years cycling habits be just as unusual? People decided to defy mother nature and ride their bicycles as if the heat was a non issue. They bought more bicycles this summer than in any year previous. No one seemed willing to let these less than ideal cycling conditions get the better of them. A big round of applause for all.
Heroics aside, it’s certainly a welcome relief to see autumn making its colorful grand entrance. After all, these are the days that are tailor made for cycling. Cooler temperatures promote longer and more spirited rides. As each week rolls by, the trees display increasingly more vibrant colors. It’s difficult not to have ones spirits lifted when seeing red and gold leaves displayed against a perfect blue sky. In the woods the foliage pares back, leaving the trail feeling more open and visible. The last of the summer insects buzz lazily about. Wildlife becomes easier to spot as animals make preparation for winter. Does the sound of geese on the wing ever get old?
Going forward over the next several weeks means remembering where you’d squirreled away your thermal riding tights and long fingered gloves. Where did you put that fleece lined beanie and helmet cover anyway? The air is so crisp that you can ride all afternoon. It’s always a surprise to see fewer and fewer leaves on the trees with each passing weekend and hear the whisper under your tires as they roll through ever increasing drifts of golden leaves. That irresistible autumn scent is in the air. Late season sunlight is softly diffused. The opposition of chilled air and moderately warm sun on our faces feels invigorating. There seems to be nothing like a brisk autumn ride to stimulate the appetite and the last few kilometers of a Sunday ride can usually be spent thinking about a hot tea or latte and a pastry or two.
From this point forward it’s the realm of the true cycling enthusiast. Colder weather means shorter days and quicker rides. The trails are all but abandoned save for the few like minded souls that enjoy the solitude of a late autumn ride. Cold weather cycling gear makes getting out in late October and November extremely comfortable. Whether you’re a die hard racer on a training ride or a recreational rider on a hybrid it’s the little secret to being able to stretch your season to the limit.
Shed no tears when bidding goodbye to summer riding. For many of us the best cycling of the year is upon us. Pull on your favorite sweater, grab your bike, and hit the trails. Latte or tea, muffin or pie. What’s it going to be?