Clipping in or not? What does a refusal to do so say about me? An attribute or a detriment?

Suddenly it appears to be fall in New England. I had observed hints and glimpses of autumn as early as late August near my little yellow house on the hill. After just nine days away I returned home to a late September Vermont with foliage tones replacing the lush summer shades of green. Foliage is swift and early this year. Possibly due to drought, global warming or just all things 2020. A combination of all three I suspect.

The landscape takes on a completely different hue in autumn in Vermont.  Birch trees appear more pristine, brighter and whiter while decorated by yellow leaves. The sky golden in full sun. Trees showcasing deep red, orange, and yellow leaves while the evergreens continue to affirm their identity. 

Animals and birds took over our property in the less than the two weeks we were away. Our garden where deep purple irises once dominated the landscape showed evidence of the local deer bedded down. Birds had left their calling card all over our new front porch. Quickly nature’s tenants moved in while our house was quiet. A reminder that we are all just visitors traveling through. 

A recent unseasonably warm 61-degree morning was inviting and difficult to refuse.  One of the very few invitations one can accept during COVID-19. Warmer temps felt summer-like, yet a coolness had settled in despite the humidity. Perfect for riding. Cycling. Change is coming. A perceivable shift. Opportunities like this will dwindle as the cold headwind from East Barnard blows in over the next number of weeks.

Peddling along Vermont roads bursting with color I felt mentally transported to a kinder and gentler time. Healing with each RPM. I hardly knew I was working athletically as I was absorbed only and truly in the moment. My retired Kinvara’s may not be as efficient as the Specialized bike shoes I once wore to clip in, but I suffered not. I understand and even have experienced the efficiency of clipping in, but this ride was about something different. Besides It is not normal to be attached to a carbon fiber apparatus even if it is the lightest of bike frames. My little gravel bike with flat pedals was all I needed and wanted. Remembering as I passed our local ski mountain my heavy steel framed childhood bike that was transformed into a makeshift “Sting-Ray” by changing out the seat and handlebars. Upgrading my neighborhood ride in appearances only as it was no Cannondale, but it was all I needed and wanted.

Continuing to ride down the street passing fields with large circular white plastic wrapped bales of hay. A reminder of newly hayed fields. One bale piled high displaying in black marker the symbol of a happy face.  A reflection of my mood at precisely that moment. 

 Inspired to “race” down our street since I was challenged by the police portable speed tracker positioned off to the side of the road for passing motorists. We were comfortably travelling at 18 mph according to the flashing display. Recorded only in our minds as that MPH will not warrant anything more than a smile. 

Passing by Billings Farm and Museum, with its endless split rail fencing, fields occupied by Jersey cows and pumpkins seeming to dot every fence post like a lower case “I.” I have run this route so many times but today I was riding. A quarter mile steep ascent rewarded by a swift downhill. I passed through an unexpected and visually delightful wind tunnel of swirling autumn leaves. Crunching through the recently shedded leaves with a reasonable tread and mm tire I was secure and certain. Childlike and free. Just travelling through… 

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. Albert Einstein

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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