Friday Group Ride #181

August has been an interesting month here in my New England home. The weather, for the first time in a long time, was mainly cool and dry, so a lot of riding happened, and I enjoyed it an awful lot. Not being too hot/cold or wet allows you to do your best riding, as it turns out.

That said, this month also sees the end of my focus on the road. I have all but stopped heading out to pile up paved miles simply for the sake of doing so. As I mentioned last week, local trails are calling my name, and while I have been riding them on my road bike lately, the mountain and cross bikes are also calling my name now. With the mornings growing darker (and chillier) I can see that it’s time to switch it up, and find some new fun.

My mind has turned to warmer clothing, the eternal search for the right winter cycling glove and a frank assessment of my lighting options. I’m not quite ready to put any of those things into regular use, but I do hate to wake up on that morning I need them and not know what I’m doing.

My friends who race cyclocross haves started their strange, cross-related rituals, mostly leaping over sticks and cones in public parks, like so many two-wheeled LARPers. Soon enough, I’ll be straining to hear the announcer over the rumble of a generator, and wondering who in the hell fixes the grass after a cross race.

Meanwhile the pros are winding down their season. La Vuelta, Worlds and the Giro d’Lombardia sit at this end of the calendar, a few remaining shots at redemption for those who have not quite met their “objectives” yet. Though those big races remain, it’s hard not feel as though a corner has been turned. This guy knows what I mean.

And while the summer is mainly over where I live, my friends in the southern hemisphere are undergoing the opposite shift. They’re gaining the light and warmth we are losing.

So this week’s Group Ride is about that shift. Is this a month of change for you? If so, what does that change look like? Are you pulling on arm-warmers yet? Or stripping them off? Are you switching from one bike to another, or training for a new kind of riding/racing?

Image: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Ron S

    I will try CX racing for the first time this year, so I’m looking forward to that. The darker mornings have been hinting at the changing seasons for weeks now, but I’ve been ignoring it as best I can.

    Quick question? Did Padraig get eaten by a bear? I haven’t seen word one from him since he departed for 5 days of off-road heaven on Aug. 11.

    Take care, RonS

  2. Kyle V.

    In Tucson the change over month is October, so I’m looking forward to the chillier rides but know that I’ve got a ways to go still.

  3. Tom in albany

    It’s time to think of trails. I’m entering my first ever race! After some 1600 road miles, I’m entering a local MTB race. Pre-rode it this morning.

    I’ve worn the arm warmers a few times already and my 5:15-5:30AM departure time has necessitated lights for almost two weeks now. I know it’s over, though, when I’ve got to put something on top of my bald head – under my helmet. That’ll be September here in Schenectady, NY.

    I may just try a CX race too – on a MTB! Woohoo!

  4. Christine

    Greetings from Massachusetts!! Looking forward to CX season here! I find August to be a ‘quick change’ month; right after the PMC, the cross bike comes out. Although I do find myself doing a couple of centuries with friends in September, especially ones sponsored by my employer. Once the darkness kills any chance for after work road rides, the mountain bikes come out and like you, the headlights begin to charge. As long as you have a bike for all seasons, life is good. Keep writing; I’m loving it.

  5. brucew

    I work odd hours. For me, mid-August marks the beginning of headlight season. Twilight on the commute home is already gone. Is of this week, the sun has officially set before I’m home.

    This isn’t a complaint, BTW. I like riding after dark, chasing into my own pool of light–a photonic carrot, if you will. During the day I sometimes, I feel guilty that I don’t take in the scenery as I ride, preferring to focus on the road ahead, and how the motor is running. After dark I can’t see the scenery anyway, and it seems to relieve the guilt.

    The next big change is jacket and tights season maybe six or eight weeks from now, followed by studded snow tire season six or eight weeks after that.

    Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy my warm night after dark commute home.

  6. Hoshie99

    Well, although my early am rides show that fall is coming, the 90+ degree Socal heat is still here.

    I am right smack in the transition you describe as cross season starts here at the season opener on Sept 29th. Mounts / remounts? Oh yeah, better practice so I don’t smash my nether region at full clip.

    It’ll be schizo for the next 5 to 6 weeks (road / cross, cross / road) then into fall I’ll be spending a little more quality time with my cross bike and it’s dubious brakes.


  7. Wisco

    I too will be trying to race cross for the first time after a summer of not racing anything. Cross seems to be much more relaxed with a borader mix of the superfit type A racers to the MTB “dudes” with dredlocks and everything inbetween.

    I’m looking to mix things up but also see if I still have any competitive fire left in the belly towards maybe getting back into Masters 45+ racing next Spring.

  8. wayno

    August and September are my favorite months of the year to ride. I reap the rewards of fitness gained through the spring and into the summer and am at my fittest in these months. For me, nothing beats a warm August evening ride among the tall Midwestern corn. August then gives way to long rides in the crisp sunny days of September. From there on in, every warm day on the road is a bonus, until finally relenting to the cold winds and bleak skies of November the road bike hibernates for a few months.

  9. Derek

    I ride the same bike everywhere. I wear pretty much the same kit all year long, I add a long sleeve upper layer in winter typically, so for me not a transitional time.

  10. LesB

    Still waiting for the change to happen, for the temps in the Santa Monicas to drop below 80F.

    I like night riding too, especially windy nights, when the night seems alive and spooky.

  11. Author

    @ Peter Kelley – I did well. Took on the 180k. Couldn’t have been a better day for it, I don’t think. Sorry we didn’t connect.

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