We’ve had a week of off and on precipitation and lower-than-average temps. This has been refreshing, since this summer was becoming too much of something to be endured not enjoyed. Continuous 95F days do not make me happy. And because of the cooler, damper weather, autumn’s approach is being felt.
And I’m happy with that. I actually truly enjoy fall. This was not always the case. Earlier in my life fall signified the end of care-free days and the return to school, plus the thought of the impending bleak and cold winter. Since my school days are long past and winters here are much more moderate (but yes, damper), fall doesn’t strike the same chord. So I’m looking forward to cooler, shorter days and the change of foliage.
And I manage to do a lot in fall. September into mid October is still pretty nice here, warm (it’s supposed to hit 80 again this week) and dry, and the big crowds of summer have dissipated. This is a big reason why I love bike touring in September. And when the temperature cools a bit more, it’s great for long rides, as I don’t have to worry as much about overheating as I would during the dog days of summer.
But still, despite all the great things about fall, there’s often a twinge of regret once the equinox hits. A regret over what I didn’t accomplish during the summer. And this summer has turned out to be something of a bummer. Despite a bunch of promises to myself, I barely did any bike camping or longer excursions. Sure, there were moments like the San Juans trip, but I wanted more of that.
And why is that? A big part of it was the heat. The “dog days” seemed to start in June and keep hold until the end of August. Not really inspiring for long rides. But another part of it was the lack of a good bike to do it. Yes, I do have lots of good general bikes, but I really didn’t have anything good for long distances. The Crested Butte is cool for short hauls, but at about 30 miles I feel its limitations: lax geometry and a too-small fit.
After I realized that I wouldn’t be happy with the Crested Butte for my upcoming Eastern Oregon tour, I jumpstarted the Bantam build. So now I have a bike that can tackle it all. But of course there isn’t much summer left! Thankfully I still have that Eastern Oregon tour to look forward to. It’s surprising to think, but this will be the first “true” (more than four days) bike tour that I’ve done since summer of 2013, when I still owned my Long Haul Trucker!
And all this makes me realize that I need to do a much longer tour SOON, something more than a week-plus. But when? Maybe next summer? I’ll have to figure out some life stuff to make it happen. I don’t relish the idea of “packing everything up” again, like I did before the 2011 tour, but maybe I’ll just have to. It would help if I could save up for something like that, but saving money has always been difficult for me, and the days of subsisting on rice and beans are over. But I’ve done it before, I can do it again. It also helps that I don’t have a lot of “adult” obligations like car/home ownership, marriage, kids, or debt.
In the short term, I’m thinking about what to do with this fall, before the weather gets too bad. Maybe I’ll do the Verboort Populaire in November? I haven’t done a randonneuring event since March of 2013, my first (and only) 200K, it would be nice to give randonneuring a shot again, especially since I have a capable bike. There’s also talk about an expedition out to the dry rolling hills around The Dalles in October, which would be fun. Haven’t done that since 2013, and though I was meaning to tour out to The Dalles via the back door (around Hood) this summer, I didn’t, mostly because of the Crested Butte. We’ll see, we’ll see.
If anything, autumn is just too short!