Hanging up the bike for the season

This past Tuesday was probably my last day riding into work until spring. I might try to get a ride in this weekend if I have the time, but Tuesday was it as far as commuting by bicycle is concerned.

This summer hasn’t been bad as my first for frequent riding. May was a fairly wet month and not much suitable for riding, but I can’t much complain about the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete my goal of 3000km. However, I managed to fit in some 2500km of riding, which isn’t all that bad. No doubt next year will be better.

It is not the cold that is stopping me from continuing my riding as I have been quite happy to ride wearing a thin jersey, bike shorts and fingerless gloves. As long as I ride fast enough to keep the blood flowing and my legs warm, I’m fine. Nor is it because of the biting 30-50kph winds which magically change direction in order to conspire against me in both the morning and the evening. The fact that I have to carry a larger burden of clothes for the day hasn’t stopped me yet this month, so that isn’t it.

It is the dark, not the cold, which stops me from riding to work well into the winter months. With the daylight savings time change-over this coming weekend, I would have to leave work much earlier in order to avoid riding home in the dark.

Yes, I know they make headlights for bicycles these days. However, I cross two busy roads on the way from work, and not at the lights either. Front and rear lights are not all that visible from the side, especially by the crazed drivers one sees on the roads these days.

In addition, much of my riding is done on trails, both paved and unpaved, where it’s often difficult to spot people and their dogs, although mostly their dogs. I have often come within inches of rendering into trail mix the shihtzu-rat hybrids the Rosedale set seem to enjoy, and during the daylight hours at that. I can only imagine the havoc I would wreak in the twilight hours if I were to continue riding.

Lastly, those in my Forest Hill neighborhood with too much money and too little sense (meaning most of them) have a tendency to rake their fallen leaves into the sides of the street. When dry, these leafy mounds are large enough to hide all manners of treasures suitable for puncturing tires. When wet and mashed, they are a slimy, slippery mess, and invisible in the dark.

Yeah, yeah, I could suck it up and ride on the main roads instead of the trails. That would at least eliminate many of my issues with riding in the dark. Unfortunately, it would also eliminate much of the fun I have riding almost non-stop from home to work. Not much can beat the feeling of riding in excess of 30kph for long stretches, knowing there are few obstacles, no red lights, no stop signs and, most importantly, no cars to slow you down. It’s an exhilarating experience to be sure, especially in the crisp morning air.

I refuse to go half-assed and use my bike purely for mundane transport, weaving around cars and waiting for green lights. I have loved the time spent racing the trails this summer. Relegating my bicycle to the stop-and-go traffic of the road would just kill that love.

In the interest of keeping the love alive and giving me something to which to look forward next spring, I am hanging up my bicycle until some sunny morning in March or April. Until then I ride the subway.

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