Starting in mid-August I begin to wait for all of the wonderful things that fall brings. It starts with college and pro football, fall fashion magazines, the new fall television shows, apple cider and donuts, crisp mornings and evenings, breaking out the hoodies and fall boots, snuggling under the blankets and the changing color of the trees. One special aspect of fall is taking a bicycle ride on a crisp Sunday morning. During summer bicycle rides you have to plan your ride for early in the day before the summer heat greets the day and you often contend with more people, more traffic and a pace that seems more hurried. After the children go back to school in September and the summer vacations are over, the sense of urgency of people racing out the door on the weekends recede a little and other activities take a priority over walks and bike rides. In the fall you can plan that special Sunday bicycle ride for mid-morning while there is still a coolness and quietness in the air. My Giant Simple 7 bicycle with the dog basket is ready for the morning adventure and my Yorkie, Gabby, and I prepare for the morning ride while donning our hoodies. The trip begins down our long driveway onto our dirt road where besides the deer and rabbits we are the only ones on the road. Sunday mornings are the quietest day of the week and as we roll through the neighborhood we see that the newspapers are still lying on the driveways, the children are still in their homes and people are waking up to their first cup of coffee. We do not encounter a vehicle until we are out of the neighborhood and crossing the main road to our local bike path. Once on the bike path we can begin our ten-mile ride and often have the path to ourselves.
Gabby always begins the ride by leaning over the side of the basket and as the breeze begins blowing around her ears she takes in all the cool morning smells. After an initial burst of speed I begin setting a comfortable pace and she settles back into the basket to enjoy the scenery. Luckily the traffic is very light on Sunday mornings and we often only see classic cars out cruising and hear the distant sound of someone out enjoying an early motorcycle ride. The trees are showing signs of fall colors and you can hear the crunch of leaves on the sidewalk as we roll down the path. In addition to the beginning of the beautiful fall colors, you also encounter on these cool mornings the perfect sky in a beautiful shade of blue. The contrast of the red and orange color of the trees against the blue sky is striking and as we pass our local park we see people preparing for morning hikes
One of our favorite detours from the bike path is a neighborhood located on a lake. After our first turn we see the beach park that has been deserted and the empty picnic tables with distant memories of summer parties by the lake, children swimming and pontoon boats ready for morning fishing or water skiing. As we ride by the lake we witness a neighborhood that is still asleep and streets that are cooler due to the lake and numerous trees blocking the sun. We know there is life awakening in the subdivision because we can smell the wonderful aroma of bacon as someone is preparing breakfast for the family. The signs of fall are everywhere and we see pots of mums that have begun to replace the summer flowers, fall flags adorning the yards and cornstalks and pumpkins on the porches. We stop for a water break by the beach park on our way back toward the bike path and again appreciate the solitude of the deserted beach.
Proceeding on the bike path we pass several churches with parking lots full of believers and from a distance I admire the faith and sense of community of the people in attendance at our local churches. As we start the final leg of the journey we pass our local cider mill and as we ride by we can almost taste the cinnamon donuts. The air is filled with the wonderful scent of sugar and Gabby and I look at one another and wish they would add a drive-thru for bike riders. The last stretch toward home has us passing another lake where people are fishing from the dock and out on the lake you can see several kayaks silhouetted against the orange, red and yellow tree line on the opposite shore. A couple is out with their dog and even with the cool weather the dog is dancing into the water and maybe cooling off from just finishing playing at the dog park that is further up the road.
Riding by the dog park you can see couples drinking their coffee while taking their dogs for a morning stroll and in the distance you can hear the open play area where you can picture the dogs chasing after one another and the leaves falling in the air. Gabby can hear the excitement in the distance and tries to peer between the trees to catch a glimpse of the dogs running around and while she appreciates their energy she knows that now that she is older she prefers cruising in her basket compared to their physical exercise. We make our final turn toward home and slowly pedal through our neighborhood which still has not awakened. We arrive home and walk the bike back up the driveway and look forward to grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting on the back deck and enjoying the rustling of the fall wind, the wandering deer, the chorus of birds and squirrels and the peaceful beauty of a fall morning.