The long and short of fall riding

27 10 2015

It’s tough being a cyclist in October.

(Cue the crocodile tears from those cyclists who still have jobs)

There’s so many decisions to make.

There’s the bike decision:

• Good bike or “winter” bike? Honestly, who has the space to store a bike that’s just used a few months of the year? Most “winter” bikes are just upgrade orphans that their owners are too lazy to sell on Craigslist.

• Fenders or no fenders? Well, if the conditions are so sloppy I’m worried about mucking up my backside, then frankly I’d rather stay home and dry.

Then there’s the wardrobe decisions, critical to an enjoyable ride in changeable weather.

Jacket or gillet? Shoe covers or heavier socks? Full-finger gloves or open finger gloves? Summer-weight cap or one with ear flaps?

Make the wrong call, and the October ride can quickly become miserable.

But there’s no more vexing seasonal conundrum than shorts or tights?

When the weather cools down, I'm a tights guy. My leisure class riding buddy, Grant, favours shorts until the bitter end.

When the weather cools down, I’m a tights guy. My leisure class riding buddy, Grant, favours shorts until the bitter end.

Over the course of a long ride that starts early in the morning, the temperature can climb 10 degrees. Or plummet just as much if a cold front happens to be en route.

So layering and generous pocket space are orders of the day.

But it’s tough to layer the legs.

Sure, there’s knee warmers. But after a while, I just get tired of yanking them up all the time. Or somehow a seam always ends up chafing right behind my knee.

If the day is supposed to get warmer as the ride goes on, full tights can be overkill.

Knickers might work, but that look doesn’t really work with longer, wooly socks.

And this time of year, shorts can be an invitation to frost-bitten knees in the shade, or if the overcast never burns off.

First world problems, I know.

Still, it’s a glorious time to ride.

Fall is my favourite time of the year to ride.

Fall is my favourite time of the year to ride.

 

Fall rides are rewarded with crisp, clear air and vistas like this blueberry field going into hibernation.

Fall rides are rewarded with crisp, clear air and vistas like this blueberry field going into hibernation.

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The other side of the fence; the Fall of Big Ring

13 10 2015

We’ve all been there; driving around on a hectic workday when you pass an outdoor restaurant patio or coffee shop packed with people seemingly enjoying a life of infinite leisure. Why can’t I be one of them? you wonder. Don’t these people have jobs?

Well, as of Oct. 2, I walk amongst the leisure class.

Alas, it’s not by choice.

On Oct. 1, the newspaper that employed me for 24.5 years published its final edition. The next day, we were out of business, and for the first time in 25 years, I was out of work.

Fall of The Big Ring!

An autumn of infinite riding! Languid afternoons sipping hot chocolate in the crisp cooling air! And on rainy afternoons, sparsely-attended matinees at the local movie theatre!

Woohoo! It's Fall of Mario!

Woohoo! It’s Fall of Big Ring!

Unfortunately the reality of unemployment isn’t quite so glamorous.

While notice pay and severance will help pay the mortgage and buy groceries until late 2016, there’s always the niggling seed of doubt; what if I don’t get another job? What if my next job doesn’t pay as well?

Oh crap! There's still that whole having to find a new job thing...

Oh crap! There’s still that whole having to find a new job thing…

Of course a week into my newfound unemployment means that seed of worry is still a ways off from becoming heart-pounding pressure. So, in the interim, it’s time to take some time.

That means breaking out the knickers and riding under autumnal canopies of yellow, red and orange leaves, with lunch breaks at favourite spots that are now deserted by summer crowds.

The Lunch Doctor is the first place I had lunch when I started working in the Lower Mainland 24.5 years ago. So it's only fitting I ride there for lunch on my first official day of unemployment.

The Lunch Doctor is the first place I had lunch when I started working in the Lower Mainland 24.5 years ago. So it’s only fitting I ride there for lunch on my first official day of unemployment.

It’s my favourite time of year to ride.

And this year, I get to enjoy more of it.