I unracked the bikes and pulled my long sleeve shirt off over my head. A stream of dead leaves skittered past on a light breeze. The sun shone bright, warm and low through the trees. My wife took her bike from me and stepped to one side, while I got mine down. She was gloveless, and I asked if that was intentional.
“Yeah,” she replied. “It’s so warm.”
It was November 6th, 8am, 70F. We were 15 minutes from the New Hampshire border. The mercury was busily rising with the sun, the swirling leaves the only real clue it was even autumn.
What to do on a day like this? Surely, it would be criminal not to ride. We pedaled out of the lot lazily, talking. Of course, it’s not supposed to be like this, if “supposed to” means anything anymore as regards the weather. The local news announced we’d be setting a high temperature record for the day.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I wondered if we should have shivered on principle, should have bundled up, as if magical thinking, along with some pantomime, might correct the course of our errant climate. It’s not that it’s wrong to ride on a day as nice as this one. It’s that this one just ought not be so nice.
Let me correct that, because all the days of the year are nice in their way. It’s nice to ride when it’s cold. It’s nice to ride when it’s raining. It’s nice to ride when you’re ready for whatever comes your way, when your attitude is right, and when your expectations are not too fixed.
I should expect it to get warmer. This is what November 6th looks like now, what it feels like.
We enjoyed ourselves, soft-pedaling around in the woods, the fall color belying sweat building at our temples, the heavy smell of those leaves moldering in the warmth. We let the ride take us wherever it wanted, then racked the bikes and headed to the cafe.
I ordered an iced coffee.