There was a noticeable nip in the air this morning. Poking my head out of my front door, I sucked the air through my front teeth slowly, watching the heavy cloud slowly pushing its way over the distant trees, and it sunk in: autumn is here.
A gilet zipped up, armwarmers and kneewarmers pulled over my limbs and a rain jacket neatly rolled up and slipped into my jersey pocket. I wheel my bike out onto the street, jump on and ride off. The crispness in the air is immediately noticeable, my eyes streaming from the chilly air, a cold I’ve not felt in month’s bites at my exposed hands.
Navigating through the heavily congested streets of South London, I follow a well-worn path of pilgrimage. My destination is the quiet and secluded country lanes of Surrey. Familiar territory, I feel at home.
But there’s something different today. Something in the air that marks this day out from all those glorious summer rides of the past few months: the change of season. It’s hard to ignore. Flashbacks of riding these exact lanes last winter wrapped in my thickest and warmest clothing – churning out the base miles – enter my mind.
At first it’s a depressing realisation that this is the end of summer and a taster of the colder months that lie ahead. I’ve been spoilt with too much sun this year, my tan has never been better. But today it’s cold, I have to keep my pace up to stay warm. Deep down I know the summer is over but I don’t feel I’m ready to accept it. Not yet.
Soon, I guess, my winter clothing, currently residing deep at the back of my wardrobe, will be dragged out. Three-quarter length shorts, tights, leg warmers, long sleeve baselayers, softshell jackets all the usual suspects, will come out. Soon, as the temperature continues to drop, I’ll find less and less use for the short sleeve jerseys and bib shorts that I’m currently wearing.
But, here’s the thing. Towards the end of this ride, which admittedly started on a sour note, I cheered up. It’s not so bad I think to myself. Some of my most memorable rides have been in the autumn: that crispness first thing in the morning, the rare blue sky day to be savoured. We’ve had a fantastic summer, it’s true, one of the best in recent years, but it’s time to adjust into that autumn mode. It’s here, as much as I really wish it wasn’t.