Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rollin' Around Again

Even though we had a 'cool' summer compared to the last several years, there is no mistaking the feeling of fall slowly sneaking on in.  Where sleeping with the window open was providing a breath of fresh air at best, now the night temperature is regularly down in the 40's and the room is chilly when I wake up.  The woods still look green, but already some of the trees are starting to drop their leaves.  And the wheel has rolled around far enough that it's still dark when I get up to start the work day.

But I love the feeling of autumn, so it's not hard to accept that the warm weather is on the way out, and that winter is not too far around the corner.  I look forward to mountain bike rides over crisp leaves with bright colors blazing through the woods.   And I love it when the foliage dies back and you can see the contours of the land through the woods.  So I'm all ready for autumn to start in earnest.

September was a pretty good month.  The rainy pattern from earlier in the season didn't repeat itself, so there were only a couple of periods of manageable precip.  I took up a mileage challenge with a buddy to ride a very reasonable 200 miles during the month, and I managed to finish it up on the last day.  I got in just over 210 miles in 19 rides, with 7 of those rides being shorter mountain bike rides on the dirt.  It's only about the fourth time that I've totalled more than 200 miles on my mapmyride workout record, so I'm pretty happy to have managed it.  But I have to say that riding towards a goal, rather than just riding because I wanted to, made it seem kind of like a work schedule.  I'm sure I'll get in some comparable mileage months, but I think I'll avoid setting goals.

I made the majority of my monthly mileage in 12 longer rail trail rides, so I did get to spend quite a bit of time on our local greenway.  I know some places the bike trails are really congested, but in our neck of the woods the usage is pretty light, except at the sections adjacent to the trailheads.  And that means that I've spent many hours this September - this whole summer really - pedaling solo down well paved green corridors.  I put together a short video to give an idea of what its like.

Starting out at the Sunside Trailhead and heading north is a nice 13.4 mile ride to the county line.  The trail continues on another 20 miles or so to end near Lake Erie in Ashtabula, but there is a nice bench to rest on at the line, so I'll often ride up and take a break before heading back home.

The rail trail goes through a lot of farm land, some active and some abandoned.  Old apple trees grow beside the trail in some places, allowing the more adventurous riders to stop and enjoy an old fashioned apple - or maybe even some wild grapes.

It's still almost as green as the heart of summer still, but there are some signs that it won't be long before green turns to orange, yellow and red - and then to grey, brown and white.

For most of the month we avoided the extended rainy spells of June and July.  I did head out into the boonies during one overcast day and got a few pictures before and after the rain.
Just after...
and sunnier skies begin to show.
With the cooler nights we've had some intensely foggy mornings.  I absolutely love fog.  I love being out in it, and I love to try to capture the feeling in a photo.

Even when it's not really foggy, the sun on the cool, moist ground brings up a ghostly ground mist.
This month I even took a picture with an actual human in it.  This is my brother and riding partner, taking a break on the trail at Bavington, PA.

And it seems fitting to sign off with a sunset.
Here's hoping for clear skies and tail winds for everyone out there.


  1. Steve,

    Well done on hitting the 200 mile goal! Love this pictures and all the beautiful scenery! I can relate to riding feeling a bit like a chore when working towards a specific goal like a certain mileage for the month.

    Keep those pedals turning and enjoy the best time of the year!!!!!


    1. Thanks. I'll probably be riding significantly less in October, as things seem to get busy in the fall. But I hope to spend some quality time riding in the woods - autumn is my favorite season for that!

      Steve Z

  2. Steve, These are great pictures. I am jealous of the rail trail you have available. To ride off road around here involves a lot of rocks and steep hike-a-bike sections.
    I used to set mileage goals when I was a runner person, it added to the no fun part of running. I just don't do it now that I cycle for my exercise. Makes it way more fun for me to just ride. I have been riding my newer mountain bike as my commuter this last month and it does not have a computer on it. What a sense of freedom to not know how fast I'm going or how many miles it was. Just that it is a blast to just ride along enjoying myself.
    Anyway, nice post. I really like to see the rides in different parts of the country.

    1. Jim,

      Yeah, I know I'm lucky with the rail trail. Next year we'll have an extension that leads right from downtown - no more driving to the trail head! If you look at northeast Ohio on Google maps with the 'bicycle' button checked you'll see that we have a lot of paved trails, and they're starting to connect up.

      I can relate to the freedom of unencumbered riding. Reminds me of a ride a while back where my derailleur had an issue and I was forced to pick a gear and stay in it. It was awkward at first, but after a short while I found that I was enjoying not having to think about what gear and when to shift. Single speed might be the way to go - if I was 20 years younger!

      Steve Z

  3. Swampboy! Trapped as I am in my draft animal harness and hacking away at, of all things, McDonald's remodels, I have been seriously neglecting my friends and it shows: folks are typing and posting way less. But all the same, it is always a pleasure to see pictures and read ride reports from my far-flung "family" and I just wanted to drop by and let you know I'm watching.