Puget Sound just after sunrise.

Summer Ripening

Summer Ripening

by / / 39 posts

Summer is a time for getting fat. Winter is a time for getting fat as well, but in a different way; in Winter we get fat on meals of meat and potatoes covered in sauces made of meat and potatoes. In Summer, on the other hand, our minds get fat: we get nice tans, we tone our muscles, long days see us riding at any hour of the day that suits us. We engorge ourselves on warmth and comfort. Rule #9 is what separates the wheat from the chaff, and we’ve had altogether too little of it. Chaff and wheat are a single, cohesive unit. Not good.

As a Seattleite, I feel I’m entitled to enjoy good weather. We have rain from November to May, and maybe a bit more. Rainy and wet weather is our brand; so we indulge in the bounties that Summer brings us. But entitlement breeds weakness. I would only be entitled to good weather if I somehow paid dues to the Sun and skies themselves for which in return they paid me with sunshine and warmth. I pay no such dues; I am a passenger who is at the mercy of forces I cannot control.

I have the best tan I’ve had an ages – certainly since I’ve lived in Seattle. Tanned guns glistening in the sun motivate a rider in a way that pale guns with goose pimples never can; the way they show off the muscles and veins is something I could stare at for hours.

I’ve been riding mostly in the evenings after work because the long hours of daylight allows for this luxurious schedule. I come home from work, pull on the V-Kit, and spend a few glorious minutes pretending to labor over which bike to ride when in fact I already spent most of the day daydreaming about which bike I would ride. I know full well which bike I’m taking out – I’m just putting on a show for them so they feel included; the difference between a savage and a civilian, after all, has much to do with presentation.

Last Thursday, I knew I was staring down the barrel of an awful day. No chance for an evening ride or even a lunchtime ride – and a disbursement of meeting locations throughout the day meant no chance for commuting, which is the usual silver-bullet in any schedule-constrained cycling-fix. So I turned to the Sunrise Ride – that sacred time when you sacrifice sleep for the sacred gift of exercising during the only window of time that anyone you work with even considers the possibility that you’re awake in the first place.

It was cold when I got up. The first cold morning of the season; a sign of things to come for sure. I walked the dogs and judged what kit I needed to ride. The cold was seeping through my light jacket and into my bones; I reeled at the realization that I was considering arm and knee warmers for the first time in ages. Maybe I can ride after work after all? It will be warm and sunny then. This was the Anti-V speaking, trying to coax me back into the warmth of my bed. I shut it out and set about preparing for the ride.

It wasn’t a Rule #9 ride, not even close. Still, it was chilly in the most invigorating way, I felt my senses in a way I haven’t in many months. The sun cut through the mist and steam of the early morning and cast an eerie blood-orange light on everything it touched. I delighted in the way the sun painted long shadows from the objects around me; I was part of the early morning canvas that I had slept through since June. One of my favorite spots in Seattle, down by Carkeek park, was windstill and picturesque. Puget Sound looked almost like a sheet of glass holding up the Olympic Peninsula and its mountains.

These are the gifts we rediscover each year when we shed the thick comforts of Summer. I can’t say I’m looking forward to colder and wetter times, but I can say I welcome the change and the return to reality.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus // The Rules // Tradition

  1. A blood orange sky may portend some #9 rides “Red sky at night, riders delight; red sky in the morning, the ride may need a warning” or something like that.

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  2. Closest I’ve been to Seattle is Portland. (my first real experience with a road bike 22 years ago)

    I live in the southeast and there are occasions in the middle January, where we can get away with a gilet, arm/knee warmers over a quality base layer. Occasionally. Summers however are long, hot and humid. The monkey gets spanked all over Rule #52.

    A couple weeks ago though, I went “home” to Buffalo for a week with my parents. The first day I rolled out for a morning ride, it was rather chilly for my southern ass, so I added arm warmers and gilet to the kit. At the least, it has me looking forward to November here in our southern summer sauna.

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  3. Spot on. My two cents: I’ve been spoiled by riding in Arizona for my entire roadie experience; one might say I started out soft, although Rule #9 does specifically mention inordinately hot and I started out in Phoenix. But even up in the mountains, during the summer it’s rare to see a day below 70 degrees, let’s ballpark that to 21 C. To me, too cold to ride means below about -7 C (boy, that sounds a lot colder in C than F). But here’s the rub: it’s all a dry heat (or cold) as they say. I’ve found myself donning the knee and arm warmers more and more during the mornings, because the days are rapidly getting colder and shorter up here. But it’s still dry, and once the sun comes up it’s nice and warm. With a potential move to Washington State, I may have to learn how to tough out cold AND wet winters. Not sure yet how much complaining I’ll do, or whether I’ll just get on with the job and enjoy some espresso upon my return home each time. Maybe I’ll have to invest in some of those DeFeet woolies and a nice pair of full fingered gloves.

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  4. Hello and VLVV, from the other side of that very water. This summer has been like a gentle poof along the head with a goose-down pillow encased in a pillow case made from 8,000-count Egyptian cotton swung by a dream-enhanced version of my one true love. It has sucked not. Not at all has it sucked. I do not pretend to understand the laws of karma, but I have a suspicion that I’ve burned up a lot of good karma this summer. And yet, I’m not bummed out by the cool morning temps and the need to use a flashlight briefly last evening. Talk to me in a few months.

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  5. @frank – good read; conjures up many great and memorable rides. As you know from riding the Northern California Coast it rarely gets too cold or too hot here….unless you ride to the East or South Bay in July and August – @Nate’s territory. As I live on the coast, most of my riding starts early in mist enshrouded hills and fog blanketed harbors. My absolute favorite time of day is daybreak when the sun’s rays begin to penetrate and clear the mist.

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  6. I started as the dark began to lose it’s grip yesterday. As we climbed out of Manchester, the dawn revealed nothing but mist which slowly burnt off into a beautifully hot late summer’s day. Later the shadows lengthened, the light became richer and a huge full moon rose. I finished under orange street lights, a bit colder than I’d started and wishing for a gillet.

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  7. @HMBSteve gorgeous. I really like riding early in the morning. Unfortunately I also like sleeping in the early morning.

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  8. @Chris

    I started as the dark began to lose it’s grip yesterday. As we climbed out of Manchester, the dawn revealed nothing but mist which slowly burnt off into a beautifully hot late summer’s day. Later the shadows lengthened, the light became richer and a huge full moon rose. I finished under orange street lights, a bit colder than I’d started and wishing for a gillet.

    You’re the man for finishing. Hopefully your family bits did not go numb.

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  9. Beautiful story, Frank. Mornings have been chilly along our beach road, too. The fog is gorgeous along there.

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  10. Awesome! I was just thinking tonight that I can’t even remember what it was like, or when it was cold enough, to require a jacket. I’ve been in shorts and tees since April. I absolutely have no recollection of what it is like to pull on oversocks and knee warmers. It’s coming though. Great piece, Frank! I love riding early. The dogs wake me up at 5:30 and some days I just head right on out. Even on weekends, I like to ride early and be off the road before even the church nutters are up. Think I’ll be starting a new job in a few weeks. First of all, the Budgetatus is going to increase by a laughable percentage. Secondly, it’s just over an hour round-trip. Even when I can’t get in a true ride, not bad to be in the saddle for an hour. Better yet, it’s mostly on a bike trail, after a short cut-through a quiet neighborhood. Stress free bike commute, a fucking dream come true. I can also take my bike inside. Oh boy, major PROs for this job.

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  11. @HMBSteve

    @frank – good read; conjures up many great and memorable rides. As you know from riding the Northern California Coast it rarely gets too cold or too hot here….unless you ride to the East or South Bay in July and August – @Nate’s territory. As I live on the coast, most of my riding starts early in mist enshrouded hills and fog blanketed harbors. My absolute favorite time of day is daybreak when the sun’s rays begin to penetrate and clear the mist.

    That’s just beautiful, Steve. Is it BoFax road on the way up to the Seven Sisters, Bolinas side? Stunning.. Nicely done.

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  12. Our mornings have got down to about 24-25 C at 0530. Believe it or not the thought of toe-covers momentarily popped into my head last week.

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  13. Early morning do have their benefits, even when travelling away from home. If the head is in the right space then it’s hard to beat Then, this happened just before hitting the elevator to go for the ride – awesome

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  14. Damn iPhone, should read, same location, different ends of the day

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  15. Hmm, it’s been dark and cold for my morning commute for the past 3 weeks & I won’t feel the sun on my (by then) palid legs until April (apart for a couple of days before the clocks go forward in spring). But then, I do leave at 05:45

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  16. Last day of winter downunder, just on 6am Beach Road. Been enjoying the V:30 starts. Love riding into a sunrise.

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  17. @Chris

    I started as the dark began to lose it’s grip yesterday. As we climbed out of Manchester, the dawn revealed nothing but mist which slowly burnt off into a beautifully hot late summer’s day. Later the shadows lengthened, the light became richer and a huge full moon rose. I finished under orange street lights, a bit colder than I’d started and wishing for a gillet.

    Nice one. Chapeau.

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  18. @HMBSteve

    @frank – good read; conjures up many great and memorable rides. As you know from riding the Northern California Coast it rarely gets too cold or too hot here….unless you ride to the East or South Bay in July and August – @Nate’s territory. As I live on the coast, most of my riding starts early in mist enshrouded hills and fog blanketed harbors. My absolute favorite time of day is daybreak when the sun’s rays begin to penetrate and clear the mist.

    Damn, I love this picture. Reminds me of some my rides last fall. Here’s two of my favorite from last year…. Damn I’m looking forward to this again!

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  19. some stunning pictures there. Wasn’t there a competition a few years ago for the best shot of the year? It should be resurrected…….one entry per poster! Better yet – at the end of each season. There are some superb photographers in this community. David

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  20. Mean while the Great White North lives up to its name. Got 5cm of snow yesterday. Snowfall warning for today with 10-15cm forecast for tonight. Weekend should be up to around 24C, which bodes well for a few last rides of ‘summer’. http://www.theweathernetwork.com/alerts/high-alert/canada/alberta/calgary

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  21. Loving the photos. Keep ’em coming. Her’s what I got for the cause. Last summer we ripened into two weeks of riding icons in Italy around the Autumnal equinox. And came home to some great Fall gravelling. This year I’m counting on the Heck of the North for the latter, but I sure miss preceding it with another round of the former. As always thanks to the Velominati for the inspiration. Cheers!

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  22. @ShawnB – that’s as good a guess as any. It is actually Higgins-Purisima in Half Moon Bay.

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  23. @VeloSix – Brilliant pictures. I think I will work from home tomorrow and go for a longer morning ride!

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  24. @Nate – Ha! I have seen some of your early morning rides. Maybe you were just a little bit asleep at the start.

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  25. @Barracuda – I love the comparison photos. Looks positively sublime. Great part of the world.

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  26. @Dave R – very jealous. Is the second pic near Truckee? I am headed up for a Tour du Lac in two weeks.

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  27. @HMBSteve Yes, good eye. It’s on the western flank of Verdi Peak, overlooking Boca Reservoir. I live in Truckee. Good luck in the race around the lake. I have club teammates in that one, but it’s too close to my departure for the Heck. Let me know whenever you’re in the area and we can’t try to meet for a ride. Cheers, Dave

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  28. Eager for the difficult cold. It’s good because it doesn’t pretend to be nice, just cold. And time slows down too.

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  29. @Ccos

    A blood orange sky may portend some #9 rides “Red sky at night, riders delight; red sky in the morning, the ride may need a warning” or something like that.

    Careful there @Ccos… you’re starting to sound like a sailor… Next thing you know you’ll be writing cycling blog posts about apparent wind and VMG and getting pilloried… The aspens are starting to don their fall colors here in the Rockies… there’s something especially enlivening about riding in the brisk nip of a fall morning…

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  30. We don’t even have to wait for Summer down here in SA, this was the last week of winter…

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  31. @Mikael Liddy

    We don’t even have to wait for Summer down here in SA, this was the last week of winter…

    Wheres that photo ? what a great spot

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  32. @Barracuda Mt Lofty summit, looking out over Piccadilly Valley.

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  33. this morning

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  34. @Mikael Liddy nice looks like here. Thanks in no small part to some uncouth Aussie who came here 125 years ago and sold a bunch of gullible Californians some eucalyptus!

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  35. @Nate

    @HMBSteve gorgeous. I really like riding early in the morning. Unfortunately I also like sleeping in the early morning.

    My problem too. I have succeeded minimally on waking myself up for those rides. Once I get out of the house and on the bike I don’t regret it, but its that first step of getting out of the bed that is so very hard.

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  36. @therealpeel

    @Nate

    @HMBSteve gorgeous. I really like riding early in the morning. Unfortunately I also like sleeping in the early morning.

    My problem too. I have succeeded minimally on waking myself up for those rides. Once I get out of the house and on the bike I don’t regret it, but its that first step of getting out of the bed that is so very hard.

    Getting up is not a problem on day one. But I cant pull it off more than one or two days a week.

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  37. @Nate oh snap…we could’ve been on the same ride by the looks of things. [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/Mikael/2014.09.11.20.04.43/1//”/]

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  38. @Mikael Liddy yeah that’s what it looked like about 45 minutes after my ride this morning. Uncanny.

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  39. @Nate – there is your once per week early morning ride!

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