Thursday, October 15, 2009

The hidden treasure of fall bike riding

Today I led a ride with the Cross Canada Cycling touring society, or CCCTS. There were three of us, Emerson, Mike and me. The temperature was 5degrees and we had to convince Emerson by means of a phone call to join us which he did.

Fall biking is a treasure. The colours are magnificent, the roads fairly quiet and the bike paths all but empty. Today we rode to Carp along very quiet roads, up and down a few small hills, past barns that gleamed in the sun, dairy and beef herds and beautiful horses. We took the bike path from Brittania to Corkstown road and the path was deserted!

For lunch, we stopped at the Swan in Carp. The food in the Swan is superb and all three of us had a splendid lunch in a quaint and warm little restaurant. I topped off my meal with a tall glass of Irish cider. It was a very civilized lunch!

Many people hang up their bike on labour day but that is a mistake. The key is layers and the right clothing. I was wearing Helly Hansen dry tech base layer for a shirt, which really wicks away any moisture. On top of that, I had a fleece lined and fairly windproof cross country jacket. That kept me very warm without getting overheated. I wore MEC cycling pants and most important of all neoprene shoe covers, as my feet always get cold in this temperature.

While Mike and Emerson wore light balaclavas, I was comfortable with a light windproof lycra ear cover, like a thin headband. We did not stop much in our short ride but drank as we rode along the glorious and quiet routes.

This is what biking should be, a quiet cycle along quiet undulating roads where you don't have the constant fear of being mowed down by an irate driver.

In fact the only car-bike interaction I had was while driving home with my bike latched onto my trunk. I stopped for a red light and a man in an SUV slammed on his brakes. He had been tailgating and narrowly missed my bike. I watched him as he gesticulated wildly behind me. After the light changed he roared up beside me in the inside lane, I ignored him and he cut me off. He proceeded to cut off other drivers, tailgating and slamming his brakes. I had had such a great day biking that I just shook my head.

To all those who think it is too cold to cycle or who are worried about getting cold, the key is really a good base item and a fleece lined and fairly windproof jacket. Mine was purchased for cross country skiing. It is a great time to ride a bike!

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