It’s been mostly a quiet summer biking season for me this year. That’s a good thing. It means nothing has gone wrong. Sure I had to replace my rear wheel gear cassette but that went fairly smoothly. The gears and chain don’t seem to quite mesh as flawlessly as they could but my bike is hardly without flaws. It has plenty of them but as long as one doesn’t stand out too much it’s all okay. That’s my philosophy. I haven’t had any flats since I replaced my back tire tread either. Well, maybe there was one but it was a while ago and an aberration. The new tread is holding up well.

It’s been a mild summer around these parts too. I can tell by my water bottles. I carry two water battles on my bike: a big one and a small one. I usually drink from the small one except for really hot days when I drink so much water that I need the second bottle too. Why don’t I just carry, and drink from, the big bottle you ask? Because I find the smaller one easier to handle. Simple as that. Being distracted by trying to handle a large water bottle while biking is a bad thing. This summer it’s been almost all the small bottle. I’d guess that I’ve only had to drink out of the larger bottle on about three days this whole summer. That’s pretty crazy. I’d guess in other summer’s I’ve had to drink out of the larger bottle at least ten days in August alone. Like I said: mild.

Now comes the time of year where I have to make a decision about my bike route too. I have three bike routes: Summer route, Fall route, and snow on the ground Winter route. The summer route has my biggest hill in it. The route is probably an extra two miles and has a pretty big climb in it. At least big by my standards. When it starts to get cold out the climb starts to get too hard. Or at least too hard for me to want to bother with. I can still make it but it’s no fun. It takes a lot of energy in the cold.

In general biking is different in the cold. My legs don’t work the same way they do in the warmth. They’re slower and don’t respond as quickly. Plus when I reach for that little bit of extra kick to make it up the big hill that kick is just not there. It’s there in the warmth but not in the cold. So this time of year my question to myself is always, “When should I stop going up the big hill for the year?”. It’s a bit of a tough question because I always feel a little sting of defeat when I change to my shorter route. I get over it for sure but it’s there at first.

Since I cycle in the morning it can be fairly could out there in late summer. It was 60ºF the other morning and so I had to put on a long sleeve shirt for my ride. We’ve had a bit of a heat wave this week and it’s back up to the 70s in the morning but it’ll drop into the 50s before I know it. And 50s and cloudy can be pretty cold for taking that big hill. Especially if the autumn winds are blowing.

Last year I remember it got cold a little early. I ended up changing over to my Fall route in the first week of September. I was tired of thinking about when to change routes so I just did. Then it warmed up a little and I was disappointed I had already cut the hill out. Once I change the route it’s changed. There is no going back. Or maybe I did go back for a day or two. I really can’t remember but I don’t think I did.
This year I’m aiming to keep going until the 15th of September. I’ll reevaluate then. It doesn’t seem like I’ll have much problem until then since it’s warm out as I write this.

With this being the fourth winter in a row that I’m going to cycle through at least I’m not asking myself when to put my bike away for the year anymore. That used to always be the question to myself in the fall. When was it too cold to ride? That always brought a greater feeling of defeat because it meant that I was inside on the stationary bike until Spring. It used to be miserable cycling in the cold of the late Fall though. Before I figured out how to dress properly for winter riding “Too cold to ride” was a real thing that could sneak up on my on any October or November day. So this “Too cold for the big hill” is much better.

One thing that has been annoying with my bike ride lately has been the “Loose stone paving method”. The town next to mine uses this paving method sometimes on the roads that I bike over. They basically put sticky oil down on the road and then cover the oil with small gravel. The cars driving over the gravel push it down a little bit into the oil but mostly the gravel gets built up in ruts before it eventually gets pushed over to the sides of the road. Meanwhile I have to cycle through gravel. That is not fun. I ended up changing my route which wouldn’t be so bad if my favorite part of the route wasn’t the part that I had to cut out. I couldn’t ride my best down hill right into an up hill combo. It’s been three weeks so far and not all of the gravel is out of the way. I tested it out today and it’s generally okay but there are still a few areas with deep gravel on them. Still that’s better than the terror ride I had over the gravel the first day when I didn’t know how bad it was.

Well, that’s the bike riding report. Keep pedaling and stay out of the deep gravel.