Wow. Fall. It's hard to pick any season as your favorite for riding when you live smack dab in a 4 season state. They all have their charms and when you hit the sweet spot of each season it's easy to say "this is my favorite time to ride". So, I'm not going to fall into that trap but what I will say is this fall has been full of prime time so far. The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with bicycle love and taking full advantage of fall's sweetness.
Rolling through the Lake Redman trails in York, PA on Saturday I got that smell, the one that can only come with fall leaves and dirt and the break down of organic matter helped along by my wheels crushing the leaves; wet and slippery with the remnants of the previous night's rain. It creeps into your nostrils but once it's there, it's there for the entire ride. Earthy and pungent and, if mountain biking had a single smell, this is what I think it should consist of. It's a reminder of why I ride, to be out in nature and experiencing it with all of my senses. The bright lights of the turning leaves, sun piercing through the trees, the warm sun on my face and water spray from stream crossings peppering my shins. The sounds of hundreds of geese calling to each other as they circle and land on the lake, in route to some winter home. And taste, I can taste fall in the air but I don't quite have the words to describe it but I bet you've tasted it too.
More earthy smells were in the air Sunday as we dug in the dirt, reworking the trail in that continued quest to make it better. Old vets and first timers out swinging tools, moving rocks and creating new lines for bicycle tires, feet and hooves to follow.
But what about last week, the first official Gambrill night ride of the season? Warm despite the sun long gone from the horizon. Eleven started out but we were quickly whittled down to nine. Gambrill is a cruel mistress, relentless on both bodies and bikes. The remaining crew paid the toll with 3 flats after the two earlier riders surrendered. But the weather was perfect for fall, a great start to the night riding season.
And harvest time, we can not forget harvest time. In this case, the harvesting of yeast and grain and hops in the form of fresh brewed beer. The Bootleggers Bliss, an annual gathering of the homebrewing bicycle tribe, location determined anew each season. A chance to share your brew and show off your talents. Singletrack carving, asphalt derbies and home cooked food are thrown in for good measure. And yes, that day was a shining example of fall weather as well. What exactly did we do to keep Mother Nature so happy?
Now, stretching back a little further, I recall another fine day, only two weeks ago but it seems like much more. A scramble, a ramble, a bicycle ride with a purpose. Call it what you will but do not call it a race. Gravel and dirt in huge portions, served up over 75 miles of fine country riding spanning two states and including a ferry ride and returning after dark.
That's a taste of how my fall has been going since the Grizvational mentioned earlier. And tomorrow, time to play hooky and trek north-west into PA and the newly cut trails at Raystown Lake. A chill is forecast, is fall on it's way out or only taking a short nap?