I’ve mentioned before: Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love when the weather cools off, so I can ride in the middle of the day without bursting into flames. I love being able to leverage the fitness I’ve earned during the season into fun, long rides in the mountains. I love the way the trees change color. I love the way most people don’t realize that this is the best year to ride a bike — whether mountain bike or road bike — and have left the roads and trails empty, so that those of us who know this secret have it all to ourselves.
In short, I love Autumn.
Except this year. This year (so far, at least), there has been no Autumn. We went straight from Summer into Winter.
(Not) A Nice Day for a Ride
Take last Saturday, for example. Excited by the thought of beautiful colors in the canyon and the dusting of snow I saw on the peaks of the nearby mountains, I put on a pair of tights, a long-sleeved jersey, wool socks, and windproof gloves, and headed out on my roadbike. I figured it would be a great day to ride the Alpine Loop, and maybe touch snow for the first time in the year.
Yeah, I touched snow all right. About 2/3 of the way up, it started raining and blowing. And then, as I hit 7000 feet (yes, exactly 7000 feet, according to my GPS’s altimeter; weird, huh?) the rain turned to snow. Within five minutes, the snow started sticking to the road. My mind’s eye quickly conjured what it would be like to descend this road with rock-hard road tires when the road was covered with a thin layer of wet slush.
I stopped, made a tiny snowball, ate it, and turned around. I felt cheated, not getting to ride to the summit.
Luckily, the snow stopped (turning back to rain) as I dropped below 7000 feet. Unluckily, the rain soon turned to hail.
You know what hurts? Getting pelted in the face by hail when you’re rolling along at 40mph.
I should point out: last Saturday, it was still technically Summer.
My Bikes are Warm and Dry
At least I got to ride my bike to work on Monday — it was cold, but it’s easy enough to dress against cold. And Tuesday, I got to go on a nice singlespeed mountain bike ride with Gary and Rick Sunderlage (not his real name).
Every other day, though, the weather’s been crummy. Cold, wet, dark. Blech.
In short, it’s Winter-like here. I haven’t been on a bike in three days, counting today. Oh, sure, I could get out and ride if I wanted to be hardcore about it, but the point of Autumn is that it’s the exact opposite of hardcore. I’m supposed to be having the fun, mellow, beautiful, mild, cool rides I’ve been dreaming about during the blast-furnace season we call Summer. Not this cold, wet, dark, snow, slush drizzle stuff where you can go out and ride if you’re in the mood to be punished or tell other people how "not that bad" it was afterward.
I am not ready for this.
Can you tell that I’m getting a little grouchy? Someone, please get Ma Nature on the horn and let her know that if this isn’t corrected soon, she’s going to hear from my people.
I’m getting grouchy. I want to go ride. No, strike that. I need to go ride.
PS: Dug Goes Sledding
At 8am this morning, I drove (grrrrr) to work, crossing over the Suncrest climb at about 8:10. It was just starting to snow.
Around 9am, Dug left his home at Suncrest to head to work. Here’s what he said happened:
We have several inches of snow here. As I descended the topmost hill at Suncrest, about a 15% grade, I slid downhill, off road, and drove down a drainage ditch for about 100 yards, trying to avoid the stalled cars coming up the hill. I had no control and bounced through the ditch like Bo and Luke Duke, knocking over about 4 reflector poles. I totally expected to roll, driving at 45 degree angle, in the ditch, bouncing off small trees, sewer grates, and big rocks. Finally, I got enough control to drive out of the ditch.
I decided to pack it in, and work from home. Welcome to Utah.