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First peek at fall

Well, so much for the Indian Summer this year in the PNW, those summers that start late but stretch their orange and purple sunsets clear into mid-October. Fall has already dropped its misty veil about the region.

But we’re OK with that.

Because with the seasons, change the bike trails: from dry and dusty, where not washing-out is a delicate balance between speed and finesse in the loose dirt; to hard and tacky, where the bit of rain that makes it through the tree canopy creates perfect conditions that offer safe flight down the steeps and through the corners—hero dirt, they call it. Deep fall and early winter is when the grease starts to gloss over the trails because rain comes every day.

But we knew the scene that awaited us on a thicket of a mountain off of the Mt. Baker highway this weekend: cool temps, falling leaves, that welcoming hero dirt. The smell of fresh rain on mountain soil is too luring to hang around the city on a dreary Sunday. The drive out to it all is beautiful as well. As the highway cuts through the countryside it soothes the mind; a calm hangs about this place like the gray clouds. You’re transported to a place untouchable by the frenziness of life.

We shuttled the trails all day as the drizzle came and went, driving clear up into the thick clouds, and then up above them. From the top there, the boys took off to hike out farther on a shred mission. Lacy and I stayed with the trails mid-mountain and rode until the evening darkness crept into the trees and engulfed the runs. It’ s wild to ride a trail barely making out its features, feeling your way through the rock gardens and accepting the drops that come unexpectedly, but still hauling and hoping not to lose all necessary control.

This—is my favorite season to ride bikes, because Nature is so thick and tangible, daring and spooky; quiet but alive.

Even Lacy, who was lamenting the end of summer just a week ago, conceded her love for this season. It’s a return to what we’re used to in the PNW. It’s what feels like home. And—it’s when the dirt is all-time. I won’t complain if we end up getting an Indian Summer this year. And I won’t complain if we don’t.

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