The nighttime temperature dipped below 60 here for the first time the other night so it is time to stow the summer jacket in favor of warmer fall gear: the padded over-pants and heavy jacket. Even though I live in Pennsylvania I never put my bike away for the winter, I try to ride year round. Some winters are better than others with almost no snow, and most weeks you can get a few rides in. Fall reminds me that I may be riding less and have to be more conscientious about it, which makes me appreciate it even more.
I enjoy cool weather riding because I like the feeling of being protected. High temperatures necessitate lighter gear and leave me with the feeling of being somewhat exposed. It’s comfortable in spring and summer with just vented riding attire, but for whatever reason the cocoon of fall and winter gear is a comfort and makes is easier to get aggressive from time to time when the spirit moves me.
Riding home I am extremely comfortable but can feel the cool air running across the tops of my thighs and under my chin. The sun is lower in the sky and comes in blips and bursts between the trees, which with the low angle, appear to light up as though electrified by some unseen power source. The long shadows serve to remind me that very soon the whitetail deer rut will start and I’ll feel better wearing the extra padding.
The best part about the change of seasons, for me, is the way each new one frames the last and lets you file it away until the next one comes around. Fall, in particular, brings that bittersweet feeling that though the colors are brilliant and the weather is ideal, the season is close to ending and although I ride year round it’ll soon be less frequently.
Albert Camus said “autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” For a few weeks each fall I get to ride through trees full of flowers as summer finally lies down and breathes its last hot breath while Autumn, well dressed and eager to impress, steps in and quickly exhausts itself trying to distract me from mourning the passing. It always works too.
In the course of a day’s commute the temperature changes by as much as 30 degrees and I can experience spring, summer, and fall riding all in one day. The fact that fall is so brief makes it all the more spectacular to me. Fall foliage rides have always been a favorite. Actually, come to think of it, every ride is my favorite—who am I kidding. William Cullen Bryant called autumn “the year’s last, loveliest smile.” I think that’s just about perfect.