01 October 2010

Fall Cycling Vacation

Rain, rain and more rain. 

That's been the story of this week.  The only variable has been the temperature:  Up to midday yesterday, the air felt tropically humid and dense.  

Since then, the raindrops have been needles of the chilly wind.  I don't mind the sensation; it is a sign that autumn has begun. 

Being an educator has meant giving up something I used to enjoy: the fall cycling vacation.  Since I've begun to teach, I've taken weekend trips in the fall.  One of my more memorable ones was a Columbus Day weekend in Vermont.  The foliage was just slightly past its peak, and save for some rain on the second afternoon and a sudden drop from 54 to 15 degrees F that evening, the weather was great.  

In some odd way, cycling in Vermont reminded me of cycling in Europe.  Perhaps it had to do with being in the countryside, but within an hour or two (by bike) from a town where I could, if I wanted to, stop in a friendly cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee or some other beverage with local people.  Plus, I found that even when the drivers left cyclists little more than elbow room when they passed, they  were never really a threat or danger because they seemed to understand bikes and cyclists on the road.   Some of those drivers, I'm sure, rode bikes at least sometimes.

I don't plan on doing a trip like that this year, mainly because I'm still nowhere near the kind of shape I used to be in.  Some of the steepest climbs I ever pedalled were in the Green Moumtains.  It seems that the roads there are older than, say, the ones in the Alps or the Rocky Mountains.  The older roads aren't as well-graded as the newer ones and so can be even more difficult than the more modern thoroughfares.   

Perhaps I'll take a trip to Vermont, or some other place, next fall.  Meantime, I hope to take a miltiday trip this coming summer.   And, I'd like to take the kind of trip I took for three weeks one September, from Italy into France,  when I was working for American Youth Hostels.  If I had taken the same trip in the summer, some of the roads would have been all but impassible with traffic and everything would have cost a good bit more.  To be more precise, they would have cost then what they cost now.

Perhaps I'll do a trip lke that next year, or even sooner.  Meantime, I'll enjoy some fall cycling here.


  1. Just off for 3 delicious weeks myself. I think sometimes we overlook what's on our own doorstep for the call of the exotic. (Mind you, not coming from the US, Vermont sounds very exotic to me).

  2. What I miss most is motorists who have actually ridden a bike on roads so know the problems and give us the room we need. I find myself searching for off road and marked cycle routes now. Roads have hardly changed in forty years but there is several times more traffic...

  3. BB--Where do you live? Actually, Vermont is pretty exotic if you're from NYC, as I am.

    Coline--In several of my posts, I've talked about the kind of bike awareness that you've described. I think it's more important than bike paths or any other physical facilities in making a place "bike friendly".

  4. After many years visiting France and occasionally finding a loan bike I bought my folding Dahon to I've in the back of the van and to be able to enjoy roads in a country where cycling is still understood. So many French have not only ridden bikes but come the summer or weekend are out on two wheels. No stigma!