After a record-breaking string of 90+ degree days (including many that were 100+) accompanied by a drought that brought local rivers to depths of less than two feet, capped off by one day of thunderstorms of biblical proportions, the mid-Atlantic region got a break this weekend. Today was supposed to be mostly sunny with periods of clouds, and temps in the 80's. Instead, we had consistently cloudy skies with a cool breeze. Normally that sort of sky turns me lethargic, but the cooler air was inviting so I stopped myself from thinking of things like easy chairs and coffee shops and books, and instead directed my body to mindlessly go through the process of getting bike and gear ready to go.
Considering that today was Saturday I expected the rail-trail and towpath at Hancock to be packed, but the lowering clouds apparently had the sort of effect on everyone else that they normally have on me. There were few other cyclists to dodge, which was a pleasant surprise that helped me to quickly get into a smooth rhythm.
Now, while I love a good equinox as much as the next person, I'm convinced that the seasons don't follow the earth's rotational phases as much as they do the human-defined calendar. Autumn is September, October, and November, which means today was the beginning of the end of summer. The air was the sort of temperature that you don't even feel against your skin. And the trail was gorgeous under the dim light of the cloudy sky. Without the glare of a blazing sun or the haze of humidity, the surrounding trees were softer yet at the same time more distinct. Added to this was the rustle of leaves under my tires, though these leaves were drought-deadened and knocked to the ground by the recent storms, rather than autumn-turned. The effect was the same, though, summoning that feeling of transition, one season ending as another begins, both exciting and melancholy at the same time. That simple, wonderful feeling I've gotten at this time of year, every year since I was a kid.
Though could someone please explain to me why I always end up riding through mud the very next day after I've cleaned my bike?