30 March 2015

Defining The Season

What's the difference between a late winter and an early spring ride?

Since it's not yet April Fool's Day, this is not a joke.  However, you are free to leave humorous comments.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's been Spring--at least officially--for a bit more than a week.  Some places have had the kind of weather we normally associate with spring for days, or even weeks.  Other places, like Florida, have already had summer-like (at least by the standards of NYC) conditions, if only for a day here and a day there.  On the other hand, there are places like northern New England, much of Canada and the Rockies, where snow still covers the ground.

So what, exactly, makes a ride early spring rather than late winter?  One factor might be the amount of daylight:  There's noticeably more of it than there was even a week or two ago.  And, since Daylight Savings Time began three weeks ago, that daylight (sometimes a gray pallor) lasts to 19h (7:00 pm) or even later.  Of course, the day has begun later, but soon we will have early dawns to go with our late dusks.

That's a fair measure of the seasons.  But the further north one goes in this hemisphere, the more daylight there is.  (Conversely,there is less of it during the fall and winter.) And some of those places are even more packed in snow and ice than this area was after even a series of snowstorms.  For those who are accustomed to such conditions and have studded tires, that might not be such an important factor.  But even such cyclists--some, anyway--do not ride in such conditions.

That brings me to yet another factor in differentiating the seasons:  The number of fellow riders you see on the road or trail. When I rode to Rockaway Beach three weeks ago, I didn't see any other cyclists. Ditto for the ride I took through the Bronx and Westchester a week after that.  But yesterday, I saw dozens of other riders on the bike path that wends its way along the Brooklyn waterfront.  Then again, once I got to the cobblestoned streets around Bush Terminal--deserted on a Sunday--I had them all to myself.  If I go there in a couple of weeks, I'll probably see other riders, though not nearly as many as one encounters on the Kent Street path.

By that standard, the ride I took yesterday was definitely Early Spring, even if the temperature barely broke the freezing mark and the wind whipped against our jackets.

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