Thursday, September 25, 2008

The first official ride of Autumn

I love autumn. I always have. There's just something about the crispness of the air, the color of the light, and the cooler temperatures that has always awakened me from my summer heat-induced haze. The only down side - shorter days. Between working until 6:00 p.m., or later, and darkness arriving in Wine Country by 7:20 (as I discovered), that doesn't leave a lot of time for riding.

That's why I was thrilled on Tuesday when I managed to get off work a little early. So I dashed home, changed and off I went for my first official autumn ride of 2009. I am saying "first official ride" because although it has felt like autumn for a few weeks now, autumn did not officially arrive until Monday, September 22nd at 8:44:18 a.m. PST. That's when the Fall Equinox occurred (did you know that autumn had an official start time?).

As I started the ride, it was 85. Of course, that's 85 with a hint of coolness. I headed out of town along the same route as usual for my after work rides. There is a bike path that follows our major creek out of the city and it allows me to avoid traffic and, more importantly, traffic lights. As I ride along the creek, I can just see the beginning of color change in the trees. We have not had any rain since May (our typical pattern) but the creek still has plenty of water. So there are lots of birds. And since I have now decided to simply enjoy the act of riding for the rest of this year I am sitting up on the bike and enjoying the view.

As I head out of town, I begin to ride past the first vineyards. This is where you really see the autumn color of Wine Country. All of the vineyards turn into beautiful palettes of red, orange, and yellow. In fact, you can tell the varietal of grape from the colors of the leaves as they change. I had the whole thing explained to me once by a winemaker but since I was drinking wine at the time I cannot remember the specifics (although I remember the wine was red).

The color and crispness of the setting sun were amazing. As I continued to roll along at a pace that allowed me to enjoy the scenery, I passed a couple of wineries. They are now in full crush mode and you can smell it. If you like wine, it is almost impossible not to be swooned by the bouquet of the crush. Of course now I have to have wine with dinner when I get home.

Along my route I was not alone. I saw many, many cyclists all trying to get in a decent workout in before night fell. There is nothing like racing the sun in terms of lifting your pace, and your heart rate. I also saw many people taking walks with strollers, dogs, and kids on bikes. I passed a couple of equestrians heading home. It seem like we all shared the same felt need to get out and enjoy the evening.

I notice it was getting dark a little earlier then I anticipated so I head for home. I thought I had until around 7:30 but I was off the mark by about 10 minutes. So back towards town, back along the creek and to the house. I can tell the last 15-minutes were interesting (read - scary) as all the cars passing me already had their lights on.

So safely back home, I was reflecting on the ride. It had everything I was looking for in an autumn ride. Great weather, great scenery and a pace slow enough to enjoy it.

I better enjoy it while I can. I also saw a UPS truck with its one lone driver and for some reason it make me think that soon, every UPS truck will have two people as they try to stay on top of holiday deliveries. That means that the holiday season, and rain, can't be far off. Until then, I'll keep riding along and enjoying my favorite season.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

That was great, Lee. It is SO BEAUTIFUL UP HERE!!!!! I love it.

I do love the fall, but the one thing I lament are the shorter days. And of course, the rain that will soon be here.

Let's enjoy it while we can! I agree that sometimes taking that bike path is such a nice way to simply enjoy the act of cycling and being present in the moment.

Great write-up!