Fall in New England is known for its amazing colors, crisp weather, and medley of seasonal culinary delights.  For a lot of us, it is also known as the time of year when trails disappear and turn into colorful skating rinks.  As the foliage exits stage left to the ground, the trails we could clearly see and ride at exceptional pace turn into ridiculously sketchy high speed guessing games; You better know where you’re going, because the ribbon of bare earth you usually follow is blanketed under every leaf ever to have been in existence, apparently. 
While the challenge of riding invisible trails becomes greater as the Fall progresses, there is a brief Golden Hour of the season where the terrain is in Summer condition, but the weather has turned to that of the Fall – temps are down, the sun is up, and you are in end-of-season-shape.  This is the moment in the season true New Englanders wait for once the mid-Summer heat and humidity has worn out its welcome.  I know I certainly got a second wind once I didn’t have to consider heatstroke as a possible outcome of my daily rides.  And because of this, I found myself taking in more of the ride each time I went out. 

There are two converging trails here, I swear.

The beauty of the season is exemplified when out riding in the woods, and getting to see a whole forest change color, and the shades ebb and flow as you climb and descend through different parts of the land.  I found myself pushing harder during this Fall, but I also stopped more often and for longer,
to take in what was around me – a literal interpretation of, “Stop and smell the roses.”  As the season moves further away from the warm months, and Winter is creeping in, the shorter days and less playful weather means less ride time.  It is when the headlamps are needed, layers come out, and group rides are only a handful of diehard buddies, that we know the season has really come to a close, or is at least relegated to weekend rides in the afternoons only. 
I think I’ve grown to appreciate the colder weather rides more, as it shows me how much I want to be out on my bike, and really earn the silly grins and grimy equipment.  To me, this isn’t just a hobby to enjoy a couple days a week.  This is a lifestyle, punctuated by dedication, commitment, and drive;  We ride for the love of the sport.