Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the smell of the woods in the fall. The earthy dirt/leaf smell the woods take on. The colors. The sound of falling leaves. Have you ever sat quietly in the woods and listened to the leaves fall? They make an impressive amount of noise when they hit the ground. If you haven’t done that you should. Maybe instead of stopping to “smell the roses” you should stop to “listen to the leaves”!

As a bike rider, fall is the time of the year when you get bonus special rides in. You know when the warms returns for just one more day and you get in a downright comfortable ride, when you know full well how lucky you are.

Fall is a difficult time for me. My racing is winding down and so its hard to convince myself to go out and really push and suffer. But that’s OK because it gives me time to remember to ride just for fun.

Fall is also a difficult time if you like mountain biking. See those leaves that make the really nice smell and the loud sound when they hit the ground, well they are hitting the ground. And then another one does. And then another. And then another. You get the idea.

I went riding a week ago Friday on the trails I have been using here in Michigan and there were leaves on them. Not a huge amount and so it was still fun fun. But during the night it was blustery. And when I went back on Saturday the trail was covered with leaves.

Leaves pose two problems. When they are wet, they are slick. And when there is enough on the trails they obscure things like rocks and roots. Things you should be seeing when your coach reminds you to “look ahead on the trail” to avoid obstacles. They can obscure the trail itself. Have you ever been riding on a leaf covered trail and realized that you are so NOT on the trail anymore?

When I went out on Saturday the trails were pretty much closed out. Riding on them was an exercise in being careful and cautious. It wasn’t fun. It’s hard to trust a lean in a corner when you don’t know if your wheel will hit or bounce off a rock. And so now I am pretty much limited to the road on my mountain bike, which is OK for a workout, but lacking in the fun of trail riding, or ripping it on a road bike.

Still I love fall (and those pesky leaves!).


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