Friday, September 17, 2010

A cyclist’s signs of Fall

Fall is coming.  Although the calendar says it’s not official until next Wednesday, the early warning signs have already arrived.  The shorter days, a coolness in the air, trees just starting to turn colors, our first potential rain forecast, and the start of the grape harvest are sure signs a change is taking place.  However, if you are a cyclist, there are even more indicators that Fall is near.

The cycling “season” in Northern California is a long one.  We start having perfect riding weather as early as March and it continues on into October.  This makes for a lot of rides, a lot of miles, and in the end, a lot of tired cyclists.  So, just as the weather seasons change so does the cycling seasons and you don’t need to be Daniel Boone to read the signs.

Let’s start with FB.  In racing season, all through Spring and Summer, my cycling friends are always posting comments about their races.  You know, things like where they finished, how team mates did, and how they can’t wait unit the next race.  Now, the posts are different.  There’s a lot of comments like not being sure of having the legs for the next race or thanking their sponsors and friends for a great year.  This is definitely a sign of easier riding days ahead.

Ride descriptions are also starting to change.  Instead of long rides full of hills and pace lines, you are seeing more descriptions with the words easy, mellow, relaxed, and social in them.  This is another sure sign that the racing season is complete and the more relaxed riding of Fall is just around the corner.

There are also the post-ride descriptions.  This time of year you still have some people posting big rides like climbing Pine Flat or the Geysers.  Then, on Monday, when you ask how the climbing went, they pause and explain how they just weren’t feeling it so they skipped the climb and just went for a easy mellow ride.  And these are people who seek out hills with the same intensity that most of us seek out pastries.

There is one sign for me that stands above all others.  Trainer rides!  I loathe riding on the trainer but I understand the need to do it.  So, now that the days are shorter and I don’t have enough time to ride after work I have already completed my first trainer work out of the off season.  It was boring as hell but I got through it.

None of these changes mean we quit riding.  Not at all.  We still plan, post, and text about the upcoming weekend rides.  We just ride differently.  We don’t shift to the big ring quite as fast.  Some of us leave our heart rate monitors at home.  We are much more likely to pass on climbing a big hill in favor of stopping for coffee.  In fact some of our rides are designed to go from one coffee shop to the next. 

For many of you out there, me included, Fall is our favorite time of the year.  This is when a lot of us get back to the simple joy of riding.  We get back the joy of rolling along with friends chatting, laughing, and telling (perhaps re-telling) stories about our cycling adventures for the year.  We also sit up and enjoy the view.  I look forward to this change every year because these are my favorite rides.

Yes, Fall is here.  And we know that Winter, with all its rainy, cold, nasty weather can’t be far behind.  That’s ok.  Until it gets here I will simply enjoy the cool days and beautiful color-change in the vineyards as I ride along laughing with friends and trying to decide what I’m going to order when we get to the coffee shop.


1 Comment(s):

dan said...

you forgot 'cross and mountain biking!