I woke up this morning, got those Autumn blues deep down. We are held in the warm grip of Atlantic gales. They are now stripping the branches, rattling the roof tiles and sending the bins dancing down the road. We lose 8 minutes of light a day as the tilt of the earth from perpendicular, takes us away from the sun. Curtains are closed by 5:00pm, and it can and will, only get worse.
It is universally acknowledged, that this years fall colours have been spectacular. Before the gales crashed in, we have had weeks of long rides without needing to clean the bikes. Days and days far superior to most of this years June and July. It could not last.
For a while there we were looking more like the Adirondack’s of New York state, so intensely flame bright were the colours this year. Cafe talk was of the weather as usual, but had none of the normal dark humour and stoicism of bike talk in Scotland. We were still riding our summer bikes in November for goodness sakes. I bought summer kit in sales and got to use it this year.
More than once I went out on the bike overdressed, and overheated like a dog in a hot car. Still, there has been just one morning of sugar frosted ground frost to make you take a cautious line on tree shaded corners. We have been getting the miles in.
I continued my photo documentary of Humbie Wood. Trying to catch Beech trees turn is a nightmare. The focus was an exhibition, so there was always going to be a deadline. I got the first of the fall colors, but only just and the photography got on the walls in time.
We were up north. Dog-sitting for a week in Nairn on Scotland’s East coast. There is nothing so fine as throwing a stick for a dog. Dog enjoyed it and we enjoyed it, few things in life are so blissfully simple. We went exploring. With a new Garmin Edge Touring installed on the handlebars ( the price of these has just plummeted – great value for space age bit of well thought through kit ), we left it to gps to finnes the routes. We would have needed to tow a trailer or have back pockets stuffed with maps to find the beautiful roads that those orbiting satellites knew. The winter bike had got a spruce-up for the holiday, with a new leather saddle from Spa Cycles. An ‘own brand clone ‘ of a Brooks, but with better leather than they are now using.
Stone circles, drafty old houses and quaint fishing villages were visited. The migrating geese turned the air black with their numbers for a few days, and we went to bed with windows wide open to their calls. They travel in family groups, learning the line of the migration from their parents. Few things are quite so spectacular as the morning rise performed en masse on a still dawn. Barney the dog was great company, with a positive life view and good easy going nature. A week was half a lifetime too short.
Trying to pick a favorite bike from those we own is like trying to pick the best of the twins. That said, I do have a preference, or did. My summer Titanium bike developed a crack just behind the BB. It proved both fatal and expensive. Van NIcholas give a lifetime warranty on their frames. Trying to find a receipt from 2009 is far from straight forward. I got there in the end, which is fortunate as the frames have gone up in price and now retail at about £1,200.
The new frame was built up with a sort of Steampunk design in mind. The addition of a gold chain gave it that final bling. It rides as though on rails and is my number 1, too good to use bike that may never leave the house. We have had just two rides together, both enjoyable. Titanium is my frame material of first choice.
The winter bike is out now and it usually has lights charged and ready for dark afternoons in the local lanes. Trees are now almost bare. Last weekends ride concluded with a ride up the path along the River Esk. A carpet of gold, and a flurry of leaves of kaleidoscope colours for our final mile home.
Bare branches mean that the local birds are easy to see now. Long-tailed tits are for us, a concluding sign that summer is over. Each one keeps a connection with its neighbour as the flock moves through the branches, a contact social call. You never see them alone, always in a tight flock of a dozen or so. I was thinking of spring and trips to Majorca with the bikes under early sun. The place is packed with German cyclists. Much like the long-tailed tits, you never see them singly. Bright jerseys and bandanas, and never less than twenty, and you know you are following a German peloton.