Friday, November 20, 2009

November always bleak and the death of a season!


November in my memory is perhaps the bleakest month here in Ottawa. The weather never makes up its mind. It is invariably dark and grey and tries to snow, but usually ends up in a cold rain. The trees are bare and the wet decaying leaves litter the curbs and clog the gutters. The garden is a mixture of mud and leaves, and the once flowering roses now are bereft of foliage and only have a few frozen flowers to remind us of their summer splendour.

November is a month that reinforces the message that summer and fall really are over and encourages us to remove our winter gear and coats from storage. It is a time to store the golf clubs and even sadder for me it is the end of my cycling season.

This year, I have had a wonderful bike season riding with two bicycle clubs and taking several local trips. Biking is a tremendous way to discover your surroundings and I had no idea that the Ottawa area had so many hidden gems. Somehow you miss all that in a car as you are focused on your destination rather than the journey itself. Cycling teaches you that the journey is as valuable, if not more so than the destination.

I have learned, due to the many times I have gotten 'lost', that at times an unintentional detour is a discovery. I never had to worry about running out of gas and since cycling is such a great cardio vascular exercise, I found that my stamina improved by leaps and bounds over the spring, summer and fall months.

While there are many ways to extend the bike season, by wearing boot covers, layers and even balaclavas, I find that there is a balance between comfort and performance. You can dress in multiple layers including heavy boot covers and winter gloves, and then remove layers as you warm up, but when you stop in the cold weather you quickly chill, or at least I do. I have the heavier cycling tights, sweaters and layers and boot covers but I find, even if I line my boot covers with plastic so that they are totally windproof, that I still freeze.

I shall miss my bike! It is time to plan bike trips for next summer and look forward to the cross country skiing season!

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