When I raked the leaves two days ago, I knew the mellow days of autumn were losing their grip. This year they held on a long time. Thanks to some slow-moving fronts, there were many cloudy, warmish days, preceded by chilly, foggy mornings. The leaves fell much earlier than last year; Jane’s brother John, who usually whiles away Thanksgiving morning by raking for us, had nothing to do. A couple of days ago I collected a third of the leaf fall since Thanksgiving in one bag. Enough to be a bit messy, but essentially it is over. And so is the warmth. As I raked those leaves, the air got cooler and cooler. The wind freshened from the south, bringing colder air. That’s an anomaly, bit it was rotation around a low pressure area in the upper midwest that was sweeping that cold air all the way around the center of the system from the western provinces of Canada, counter-clockwise. As the temperature dropped the air cleared and the wind blustered.
So today was the first day for winter gear. It’s not just a wardrobe change, it’s a process. There are thirteen items of apparel: a helmet, a cap, a neck warmer, a base layer shirt, a training shirt, two gloves, padded cycling shorts, leggings over them, two socks, and two shoes. Most of these can be varied for thickness and warmth, depending on the degree of cold. Today was not terribly chilly, topping out at 49°, so the mid-range training shirt and shorts were in order.
It was blustery, though, and I stuck my face into a NNW wind sustaining 6 mph and gusting to 18 mph and rode a good 18 miles to Ashburn. I came back only as far as Sarah and Sean’s place in Herndon, where Jane was tending Emma, down with a respiratory infection. There I stuck the bike in the car, and when Sarah got home we headed for Sunset Hills Vineyard, one of our favorites, to pick up our Wine Club shipment. I’d sent my “civvies” out with Jane in the morning so I’d have something to change into.
It was sunny, and a good day to ride despite the headwind. This kind of temperature insures a cool body core without raising the dangers of a real chill. Now that my first winter ride is behind me, I am ready to roll through the months of December, January, and February, the true winter in Virginia. Only in dire straits will I give up a chance to ride out for the alternative of an indoor 45-minute ride. There will be enough compulsory indoor dates. I will ride out whenever I can.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2011.