It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

To most, the first thing they think about is Christmas and Andy Williams. But to me, a mountain biker, I think of Fall riding. For me this is the best time to be riding. A time when for once you’re not sweating your you know what off and feel like you’re going to hurl at the top of the next hill. A time when you might want that extra layer and will definitely need to bring a light for your afternoon ride. A time when hunting begins and wearing bright colors would be a good idea for you too. This is the time when your local trail is transformed into a cornucopia of bright colors and pungent smells. A time that takes forever to get here and is gone all too soon.
Carrick Road trail head in the town of Knox, NY. A foggy but colorful day to ride the North Trails at Thacher Park.

This is the time of the year when even the trip to and from the trail head is enhanced. I just get caught up in the variation and contrast of the colors. The light greens, the dark reds, the bright oranges and the blinding yellows against the brown background and blue sky is always awe inspiring. I love ripping down the trail, stirring up leaves as I go. Listening to the tires crunch fallen leaves and sticks. The feeling of that crisp morning air filling your lungs at the top of that steep climb and the tears that form on the edges of your eyes when you bomb down the other side. I love those moments when you get so caught up in the ride that you’re in the zone and the only thing that brings you back to reality is a slippery root or drifting into a corner when you hit a patch of the wet leaves and it just puts a smile on your face.

29er’s can wheelie drop just fine.
Note sure if there is hunting allowed where you ride but in upstate NY, there are few places that it isn’t. Even though I love riding this time of year I try and be courteous to hunters and avoid certain areas during hunting season. I mean, lets face it, their season is a hell of a lot shorter than ours so give ’em a brake. This is where riding at night will come in handy. Can’t hunt in the dark so save those rides in areas where there is hunting and ride there after the sun sets. If you feel compelled to ride in these areas during the day, just be sure to wear bright colors.
Adding lights to your helmet and /or bike also extend your riding enjoyment this time of year. For those of you that haven’t yet tried night riding, you are missing out. Riding in the darkness totally changes how you perceive the trail. It’s like you’re riding somewhere totally different and yet it still feels familiar. Not being able to see everything makes you focus just on the section of trail that you’re on and makes you look ahead and into corners. And just because it’s dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful vistas. Next time there’s a full moon out, go for a ride on a trail you’re familiar with that has some scenic views. When you get there be sure to shut off your light and let your eyes adjust and if it’s really dark and clear where you are, you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant night sky, bright moon and hopefully a view of the edge of the milky way. My friends and I used to carry a beer on our night rides when the moon was full. We’d ride to an outlook, sit and enjoy a cold one, talk about whatever and just enjoy the scenery. Good times…good times.
My friend Jeff and his Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon navigating the wet trails at Thacher Park.
Be adventurous and try night riding. If you don’t have a light, borrow one from a friend. Most experienced night riders have spare lights and are always looking for someone new to share the night riding experience with. Lighting demos are also a good place to try before you buy and some bike shops also have lighting systems available for you to demo. It’s common sense but if you’re going to ride at night, it’s best to go with a friend or a group and also try and ride a trail you’re familiar with. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Do you night ride? What’s your favorite time of the year to ride? Let me know what’s your favorite part about Fall riding. So be safe, get out there and enjoy the ride because remember…Winter is coming.
See? We all love night riding. Group ride at Red Oaks Trails in Schodack, NY before the sun went down.

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