Living in the moment you never realize it is coming. You ride along blissfully with your thoughts focused solely on the trail in front of you. You are out enjoying another perfect summer rip through your favorite trails. You finally are back in riding shape. You know the ins and outs of every trail. You know not to hit the brakes for the high speed corners. You have become intimately acquainted with every square inch of trail. You are only going to get faster and faster. Then it happens, off on the distant hillside you see it. Your brain does not quite process what you saw, so you keep riding. Then there it is again, out of the corner of your eye some flash of color. You stop at the next viewpoint and notice the view of a week ago is now something different. It has started; the changing of the leaves, the end of summer.
Fall is a bittersweet season. Trails seem to be riding their best come fall. The summer heat has died down. Dirt is retaining moisture from the morning dew. Personal fitness is at it’s peak. These fall rides can be unmatched. There is also the knowledge that pretty soon riding will be limited. The afternoon sun hangs lower each day. The brisk chill of the night air is harder to ward off. Fall is short, and fall signifies the start of winter. In Utah this means snow, and lots of it. Fall signals the time when thoughts turn to dusting off ski boots and waxing ski bases. Once the snow starts to fall, it tends to stick around for a while. Riding your local trails becomes a distant memory. You cannot even see the perfect ribbon of single track under the blanket of white.
These thoughts while on one of the greatest rides of the season act as an emotional roller coaster. The stoke of hitting a rock garden at full speed is followed quickly by the uncertainty of fitness levels come next spring. Will I retain my skills next year? How can I clean that section after 5 months off the bike? These thoughts start to hinder what was the greatest ride.
Then I realize, I am still on a bike, and I am riding in the golden hour of another amazing summer day. Time to start packing a windbreaker, and lights; there is still much riding to be had.