Riding into the falling leaves

26 09 2016

Snap! The seasons have changed.

It seems only a few weeks ago we were organizing 6 a.m. Dawn Patrol rides to indulge in waffles. Now it’s still dark as night at that hour.

The FRF’s calendar of official club rides wrapped up Sunday with our seasonal Ride of the Falling Leaves. Ironically, it was also one of our smallest rides, with only six of us heading out under a leaden overcast that threatened to spray rain at any moment but never did.

It's the Ride of the Falling Leaves, the FRF's traditional final formal group ride of the season.

It’s the Ride of the Falling Leaves, the FRF’s traditional final formal group ride of the season.

Fall riding can be a tricky – and bulky – undertaking: shorts or knickers or full-on tights; sleeves or jacket? rain cape and fenders or risk it?  But it’s also one of the best times for rides; summer fitness lingers, the air is fresh, the light dazzles, the bike is lighter because you only need to pack one bottle instead of two.

Jacket, tights and changing leaves; signs of the end of another cycling summer.

Jacket, tights and changing leaves; signs of the end of another cycling summer.

 

The leaves are changing colour.

The leaves are changing colour.

Maybe all that indecision kept the numbers down?

The FRF enjoyed unprecedented growth; over the course of our first season as an officially sanctioned club we more than doubled our riders. At times on the open road we actually looked like a real peloton instead of just a motley assemblage of weekend warriors. Maybe that’s what happens when you get matching kit. Imagine the possibilities if we had a team car?

Even as the season winds down, an FRF ride isn't an FRF ride without at least one flat. And this time not even in Delta!

Even as the season winds down, an FRF ride isn’t an FRF ride without at least one flat. And this time not even in Delta!

As one of the group’s early members, it’s been a fun ride (pun intended) to be part of a growing community, to welcome and learn from new riders, share experiences and stories of the road. I came to cycling as a lone wolf; I could get on the bike on my own terms, ride at my pace, go where and when I wanted to go. But riding with others is more enriching; you learn new routes, gain confidence, challenge your capabilities. You make friends.

As we ride into the off-season of privateer rides, sporadic group efforts, stabs at cyclocross and indoor trainer torment, we’ll have some work to do to keep the FRF’s momentum moving forward while not letting it overtake the fun and camaraderie that got us to this point. Nobody wants to become the entitled throng that was infamously splashed all over an evening newscast recently for hogging an entire lane of a known and popular cycling route, much to the dismay of a single motorist and an accompanying reporter.

Taking advantage of the new bike lane along SW Marine Dr., a formerly narrow, scary stretch of pavement.

Taking advantage of the new bike lane along SW Marine Dr., a formerly narrow, scary stretch of pavement.

On the road cyclists pedal a thin line between the tolerance and hostility of motorists. We have to work hard to earn the former but even one small mistake can incite the latter. As a group, the stakes are even higher, the margin for error thinner. It’s not fair, but we’ll never win that argument against a 2,000-pound hunk of steel that travels at twice our speed.

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