The changing of the seasons is an intimate experience as a bicycle commuter. You feel the slight differences in temperatures and smell the various smells that indicate what is coming.
I can’t describe the light-hearted feelings that occur when I ride to work in melting snow. When the temperatures are still cool but they feel so much warmer than what we lived the past few months. The air has a crisp and refreshing feel, the sun warms your face, and the tire kicks up dirty slop. You can ride faster without the cold air gumming up your knee joints, suddenly you feel like a super fast ninja vs. the slow and determined one.
Riding my bike through the seasonal transitions is a beautiful thing. From winter to spring you find yourself with uplifted feelings and a sense of hope. You have rolled your bike through many inches of snow and felt chilled to the bone. Now instead of snow it’s muddy water which may nor may not splatter your face. The less frigid temperatures make you feel invigorated and lively, everything seems so much brighter and cheerful.
Eventually the grey days of winter and early spring bring forth vibrant blues and greens. Spring flowers burst from the ground and little cabbage moths will start fluttering around. It will be summer before we know it! Summer months usually bring heat and humidity which I do not care for. Rides around the Trout Run Trail result in sweat-drenched jerseys and shorts, except the summer days where it happens to be raining. Rides to work aren’t complete without a handful of baby wipes stored in your bag. The hot summer nights are beautiful with stars in the sky, fireflies blinking, and laughter of people walking about.
From summer to fall you get to experience cooler mornings and cooler rain showers. You get to experience the leaves changing; bright colors of red, orange, and yellow. Fallen tree nuts and leaves litter the trails and eventually start to decay. The smells fill your nostrils while you ride; it's a moist and earthy musk. Temperatures eventually fall to the mid 30’s and lower, and you start feeling the urge to hide indoors. There comes a time when the cold and dampness make long rides outdoors miserable for me.
I continue riding to work regardless of the heat, humidity, rain, cold, or snow. It seemed like the cold winter air came quickly this past year and hung on with an iron-like grip. The first cold day of riding brought a sense of mourning to me. It was truly winter and I would have this kind of weather for the next several months, and that was before it snowed. The first real snow ride brings forth excitement and a sense of challenge. You just do it! Every additional snowfall was an added challenge; freezing rain was a bonus round that had me white-knuckling it to work. Tinkering with air pressure, figuring out how tight I could turn, and if I could make it over the pile of snow in my way. If you want a challenge, try riding the alleyways in town.
I did manage to find time to play outside in the snow on fatbikes, which did take away some of the winter blahs. Going up to the pines in Van Peenen gave me a new challenge and something to look forward to. I disliked winter a little less when it happened to be warm enough to go out and do something fun outdoors and not completely freeze.
There is something special about experiencing the seasons by bicycle. You get a firsthand experience with the various smells, temperatures, and sensations. The seasons feel more intimate and you can sense how they impact you on a daily basis when you are outside regularly. This is life on a bike.