I’ve always thought that weather is perfect when we’re not talking about it. It’s easy to say it’s too cold or too hot or too humid or too windy or too wet to go for a bike ride. 2017 has been an interesting year, weather-wise. Summer was probably “average, in terms of temperature and rainfall, but it seemed like we didn’t have the heatwave that we normally get, and it seemed to rain every few days.
This fall, however, has been summer-like. September felt like July, with daytime highs in the 30C range for long stretches. And now that we’re into October, I expected fall weather to arrive. This past Thanksgiving weekend, however, has proven otherwise. Temperatures are a bit cooler, but the weather has been so warm, I was able to get out for a bike ride four straight days – Friday through Monday. And for my day-time rides, I was able to ride in shorts and a short sleeve jersey.
Friday night, I joined the Berlin Bicycle Cafe full moon ride. The cafe has been organizing these once-a-month evening rides on the first Friday of each month. The rides start at the cafe on Belmont Ave. in Kitchener and the group rides north to Columbia Lake, where a campfire is lit for cooking and treats. This past Friday, it was too cloudy to see the nearly full moon, but a nice group showed up to have some food and chat about bikes!
Saturday, after some morning errands, I got out on my gravel bike and explored some new (to me) roads and trails. I mapped out a route from Waterloo to Hespeler, and I wanted to check out the Mill Run Trail at the south end of Beaverdale Road. When I got to the trail head, I saw a “trail closed” sign. That’s never stopped me before, so I continued a few km down the trail towards Highway 401. Within sight of the 401, I came across a big fence where the trail actually was closed due to “danger of falling concrete”. Using better judgment (I actually do this sometimes), I turned around and continued on my way, eventually riding over 50 km as the sun fell towards the horizon.
On Sunday morning, I met up with my friend Tim for another gravel ride. When I left my house, a light mist was falling and the air felt cool. Tim and I arranged to meet north of Erbsville, but when I arrived at the meeting spot, I checked my phone and learned Tim was behind schedule. He advised me to continue to ride and he’d chase. So I meandered on my way west until he caught me. We proceeded to ride at a conversational pace on some of my favourite gravel roads in the area: Hackbart Road and Lawson Line. The tail wind on Lawson was nice and the ride along Hemlock Hill Drive (along the Conestoga River) is another favourite of mine (albeit paved). We parted ways near RIM park in Waterloo, completing a 55 km loop.
On Thanksgiving Monday, I hadn’t planned to ride but a late afternoon window in our family schedule gave me time to get out for a shorter 40 km gravel ride. Since my extended family had Thanksgiving dinner the day before, I was able to get out on my own on a wonderful fall afternoon that felt more like summer. There’s something about the angle of the sun at this time of year, particularly later in the afternoon, within a couple hours of sunset. I was fascinated with the shadows that me and my bike cast on the roads:
Here’s a heatmap of my four rides this past weekend (I love heatmaps):