i heart autumn by mj

Ohhh, how I love, love, la-huuuve the autumn season! (This pix is from my yard last year.  I originally had the scare crow propped up with the bike which looked fab, but he kept falling over.  Silly scare-d-crow.)  The cooler temperatures, crisp clean smelling air, amaz-za-za-zing colors, an approaching end to the race season and the laid back schedule that comes with it, halloween (Boo!), then Thanksgiving (I forever give thanks to have found mountain biking and all the most spectacular things that come with it!), etc.  Most people are quick to complain about the shortened days (sure, I agree it sucks a little), but I think we gain enough in the time of year that its a fair trade.  I truly feel this is just the beginning to the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors.  No, no, its not too cold or too dark, people!  Here are a few considerations when attempting to enjoy the “off” season to its fullest potential…

1.  Get some decent clothes.  So simple, yet so true.  Specifically for mountain biking.. winter boots (I seriously recommend these over whatever combination you can concoct to try and “winter” your summer shoes.).. tights (I personally like having a regular pair, a flannel lined pair and a wind front proof pair).. thicker, warm socks.. flannel lined long sleeve something.. wind vest.. winter jacket.  It isnt until January-March that I would actually need all of this together, but when you need it your beyond thrilled to have it.. and when your miserable without it you realize you’ll pay almost anything to get it!  It did take me the last few years to complete my collection of gear, so I understand how long it can take to complete such a list of “necessity” items.

2.  Get yourself some good lights.  So what if the sun sets before you even leave work!  The amount of light options out there are endless.  Do you sit inside for the next 8 months, only enjoy outdoor fun on your off days, or do you go get some lights and enjoy yourself whenever you please?  Get the lights!  The trails become new, exciting, adventurous, all kinds of fun!  You gotta try it!  I think the ideal situation is having a head/helmet lamp as well as on your handlebars.  Combined its brighter and safer, but if you can only afford or want one it should definitely go on your head (to follow your line of sight and not just where the bike is aiming).

3.  So you actually want to try mountain biking, or another sport (crazy talk!) but do not know anyone to enjoy it with this season?  (I’m not a true fan of solo night riding myself either.)  Pittsburgh actually offers a lot of group fun.  All it takes is a little effort to find them.  Bike Pittsburgh, Venture Outdoors, PORC, DORC, PTAG, WPA Wheelman, Team Caffeine or Decaf, etc.  Go, meet, greet, be merry!

Mother Nature has a lot to offer and if you just wait for a certain time of year and/or a certain kind of weather then you are missing out on a crap load of fun.  PA actually has a brilliant slogan, but I never see it anywhere.  “Welcome to Pennsylvania. now get out.”  I love it!  And I recommend… a bike ride.. but, of course! 🙂

Cycling is like church – many attend, but few understand. 

– Jim Burlant, The Quotable Cyclist.

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