Sunday, September 20, 2015

Such a thing as seasons

     With the end of summer most people consider this the end of the cycling season. Personally, this summer emphasized how much I really dislike riding in the warmer season. No helmet is really comfortable, and as such I pretty much discarded mine for an indefinite time. In fact, I've gotten so used to riding sans helmet that I'm not sure I'll go back. You have no idea how much more space cars give you until you do, in fact my husband now refuses to wear a helmet because he feels safer without one.
     As a disclaimer however, a friend of mine recently fell of her bike and got a concussion. I don't know if she was wearing a helmet or not, but just a reminder head injuries do happen.
     The seasons change, I recently changed jobs so theoretically I'll be able to balance time better. Its a closer commute for one, no more downtown riding on a daily basis, no more near death experiences trying to cross on foot on 3rd and Union (that crosswalk is a death trap). Now my daily commute is for the most part on slow residential streets. Though, unfortunately I have to climb Mt. Roosevelt St., you know, the part of Roosevelt that's just a straight fucking 180 degree angle, for some reason, lacking a Trondheim lift, and a bike lane right in the dooring lane. Oh, and going northbound downhill at night, beware of a huge bump in the pavement that will knock you off your bike, there's no street light in that spot and if you aren't careful you will crash. Not that the manhole covers are a joy either, and you have to bike on those if you aren't brave enough to risk "taking the lane," The last time I did that someone kept flashing their headlights, creating an effective deadly blinding effect.
     Aside from that one horrible section, its not bad as a commute goes. Though I'll admit I sometime cheat and ride the bus up the hill, folding Scamper and stowing him inside with me.
    It was on one such day, recently, that a gentleman and I struck up a conversation. I noticed he was the rider of the rusty well loved upright on the front rack, and he admired the utility of Scamper. He remarked mournfully that it was "the end of the cycling season," to which I couldn't help but express disbelief such a thing as there being one season for cycling. I mean, yes, it is the end of the Summer Cycling Season, but that just means its the beginning of the Autumn Cycling Season. And seriously, aren't we lucky to live in a place that HAS an autumn?
      Summer cycling for me is just utterly depressing. It wasn't just time constraints, and unmentioned health issues, that forced fewer posts, it was the awful torture that is summer cycling that made me fall silent. The principle of if you don't have something nice to say and all. But I'm going to make a defense against the so called "joy of the summer" and all that it brings:

Seven Reasons Summer Cycling Sucks
1) The lack of parking. This is a first and foremost complaint, if people cycling just a few months longer after summer, shops would give in and install cycle parking. All the year long cyclist bemoan this sad state, but for some reason we're stuck in the this cycle. Maybe if we pointed summer cycling is the worst people would want to give cycling in other seasons a try.

2) Bugs. Bugs in your teeth, bugs in your bag, flying around you. Ever hit a bee going downhill? That's a no win for both parties.

3)  A more personal note, I despise warmer temperatures. Any degree above 73 Fahrenheit and my body starts rejecting clothes like a bad transplant. I don't retain body heat well due to blood flow issues so you'd think warmer temperatures would be great. The truth is I'd rather put on a sweater than bike in just my bra and short shorts, but the heat makes this impossible.

4) On a further personal note, I have UV sensitivity issues, not only does this limit my rides in the summer because I've stripped down because of the heat, I'm super fucking blind on cloudless days. Oh sure with my sunglasses I can see, but if I break or loose them (and people, they are sunglasses, that shit is made to get lost and broken) I'm stuck.

5) Summer is nice, but it makes the scenery rather uniform. Especially in Seattle. Green, green, and oh hey, more green. But, in the fall, its all reds, oranges, yellows, in vibrant contrast to the ever present green. Sure, the summer is nice, but autumn is really the time to bike and get close to all the colors.

6) Spiders. Spiders everywhere. You notice how fall brings out the spiders around here? You can't outrun them. Get on your bike, escape Shelob.

7) Coffee rides anyone? Sure summer is the time for lots of group rides, but that doesn't end with the summer. Autumn is just as full of social rides. As kids go back to school and meet up with friends, social rides are just the thing to catch up on what's been happening all summer. Coffeeneuring kicks off the first of the autumn ride challenges, and the events never stop.

     So if you didn't enjoy cycling this summer, don't worry, for whatever reason, you weren't alone. I'd recommend cycling in the fall, you don't have to keep going into winter, even I go through cycling pauses in the winter, and rarely do flakes of frost fall upon this part of the Pacific Northwest. Just try cycling through the autumn, say, late August through the last bit of November. Its just like riding in Spring, only less bugs, less heat, and more colors,


  1. In Seattle autumn means coffee shop and bakery rides, and of course cross for the more competitive. And then in January we start our winter hill climbing series. No such thing as end of the cycling season.

  2. Yeah, glad you mentioned the importance of wearing a helmet, no matter how uncomfortable it can be. Agree that the summer is not the best of seasons for biking, but I agree with Rich, cycling never stops. You just have to take the good with the bad!

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