If you are a regular reader – bless your heart – you may have noticed a marked slowdown in the frequency of my posts recently.
It’s not that there has been a dearth of bicycling news or that I have lost my passion for riding. It has more to do with the fact that the days are growing shorter and when given the choice between writing and riding, riding wins!
Late summer and early fall is a great time to get out and ride.
The oppressive heat that held us in its grip right up through the Labor Day weekend is now a distant memory. The crowds on the bike paths are starting to thin out. Colors are just about to change. Even the air feels different.
Yes, you can feel that change in the air.
At this point, none of us can predict the intensity of the fall colors or whether the leaves will remain on the trees long enough to show those colors off. One thing is certain, however. Eventually, those leaves will be crunching beneath my wheels as I roll along, breathing in the last of the ideal cycling weather.
Fall is a bittersweet time for recreational cyclists.
There is no better time to be outside. Temperatures are ideal. UV rays are less potent. The scenery is changing week to week. Different scents are peaking and fading away along with the colors. Each ride feels different, unique.
Daylight is growing short.
Before and after work rides are getting harder to squeeze in. Weekend riding time becomes more precious. Epic rides are harder to plan due to unpredictable weather. We’re forced to approach each outing as if it might be our last long ride of the season.
It’s hard to accept closing the chapter on another cycling season. There are certainly regrets about beautiful days squandered because I chose to work instead...
As I look back on another season, I have some pretty great rides to remember.
In addition to my usual go-to local trails – the Deer Grove, Cuba Marsh, and Busse Woods loops, Paul Douglas Trail, Poplar Creek Trail, Fox River Trail, Great Western Trail, and Illinois Prairie Path – I added Des Plaines River Trail, Green Bay Trail, I & M Canal Trail, Jane Addams Trail, and Lost Bridge Trail to the Illinois portion of my list.
In Wisconsin, I enjoyed the Badger State Trail, Capital City Trail, 400 State Trail, Elroy-Sparta Trail, La Crosse River State Trail, Great River Trail, and the Bearskin Trail. I added the Munger Trail (in two spots) to the usual Minnesota trails I ride while visiting the Twin Cities (Mid-Town Greenway, West River Parkway, Big Rivers Regional Trail, Elm Creek Park Trail, LRT Trail). I hit the Katy Trail in Jefferson City Missouri. I rode the Monon Trail in Indianapolis.
I joined friends for a week long bike tour in South Dakota, appropriately named Tour de Kota. I enjoyed three days of riding across Iowa on RAGBRAI. I took a three-day, self-supported bike camping trip in Wisconsin with an old friend from high school. I even met up with a grade school pal and made a return ride to the small Southwestern Michigan town where I lived for four and a half of the most formative years of my youth.
Not to mention all the trips I took by bike instead of by car throughout the summer...
I guess I really can't complain about the time I was able to spend on the bike in 2012.
The season really isn't over until the trails are covered with snow and the shoulders are drifted over and coated with ice.
Carpe diem, my fellow riders, carpe diem!
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Keep riding and be safe!