August 20, 2007

A brief taste

Last night I stepped out onto the back deck and was pleasantly surprised by what I found - the subtle hint of rain, a south wind at 15 MPH - which was actually cool. A drop in humidity, and a drop in temperature - and all of these things coming together in something of a fall-like break from the sweltering humidity of the last two weeks. It was only relative, however, as the temperature was still firmly in the mid 80s, but it felt nice. A gentle rain began, and it gave me pause enough to stop the world around me to allow me to take it all in. Birds, hiding from the sun nearly all month, fell from trees and hopped in the wet grass, singing as if to thank the heavens for the break. It was a good moment, refreshing, and enticing... my favorite cycling season is coming in only about 6 weeks.

Today, unfortunately, it was short-lived. Merely the remnants of tropical storm Erin, the cloud cover, fast upper level winds, the spotty rain and cool breezes would not last. By the time I woke and prepared to ride to work, the tables had already turned back to mid-August. The rain would only serve to clog the air with moisture as it lazily evaporated into morning fog, and the temps today will rise to remind us that summer is still here.

Last night I started to look through some of my old ride journals and mileage logs, with hastily scribbled notes and figures from ride after ride from 1998 to the present. Notes about headset adjustments, cables breaking, new freewheels, new bags, old bags, tires - but mostly weather notes. Temperatures, humidity notes, the agony of forgetting sunscreen, the shudders of forgetting gloves or wind-vests. I marveled at the coming temps, seemingly in the last couple weeks of September each year logged there are notes about the first sub-freezing morning commute, the first use of tights or warmers, notes about chilly drizzle and 40 degree north breezes -- ahhhhhhh..... I smile.

As oppressive as the heat has been this year, moreso the humidity, it serves a good purpose - it serves to remind me why I like fall so much, the same as winter makes me appreciate spring. It's a cycle that only exists in certainly latitudes, true, and I'm grateful for my locale. It's not so much the season itself but the changes between them that I enjoy. Transitions; watching things move and scurry and leaves fall while floating silently by on a bicycle. That first hint of burnt leaves, the first smell of firewood. Suddenly being able to see the stars thru the trees. Hot soup. The chill of cold rain, the comfort of that extra layer, the taste of hot coffee after a cold ride, the feeling coming back into my face amid soothing ribbons of flavorful steam.

As I tucked away the ride journals and began packing for this morning's ride, I had to remind myself again that the cool air outside was only temporary. The appeal of pulling on wool, thicker socks, and the comfort of a good pair of gloves will have to wait a few more weeks. I had to remind myself that for this year, this summer, there is still training and work to be done. Once again, this passing weekend saw no mileage gained, alarms ignored, plans ditched. I'm trying to stay positive and convince myself that it's because I need rest - the body knows best. With continuing allergy issues teetering towards something more serious, I'm thinking I might be on the right track here - but the numbers aren't coming. There is still time for training - but I find myself not wanting to. I think it's nothing more than being tired, and starting to show my age.

Opposed to that, I know how the spring went. The brevets were not without hardship, but were finished, one by one. Another first, my first 600K, was checked off this spring - and yet, it doesn't feel like this is the same year. It seems like a different time, a time of hardship and stress. I need to reconnect with the positives, and get moving again. The taste of fall reminds me that there are indeed things to be happy about, some things to look forward to. Giving up now would be foolish - triumph, accomplishment; once these goals are checked off a feeling of resolution will wash over me, and the feelings of fall will be all the more sweet.

Only a few more weeks...

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