Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Spacing Ottawa contributor Kathryn Hunt’s blog, The Incidental Cyclist
I encountered a bit of a traffic jam on the way to work this morning. I thought they’d all have been gone by now: by the time I need to buy a toque for under the helmet and break out the gloves, I sort of expect the migratory birds to have left. But, apparently, no.
These folks are just one of the road hazards of November. There’s their poop – it’s gross – and the fact that a bird this size feels no need to flee before an oncoming bike. They just gaze at you sideways, like they’re daring you to violate their personal space. But there are other hazards on the roads this time of year. . . for one thing, I also notice more roadkill in the late fall. I’m not sure why: maybe animals like squirrels are slower at this time of year. And it’s mostly squirrels. (There are more disgusting things to accidentally roll over with your tires than one of those sad flattened patches of fur in the bike lane, but not many.) But it’s also birds – seagulls, mostly, although there are pigeons too.
Then there’s the pack of wet fallen leaves. The undercarriage of my bike gets plastered with shredded leaves on wet days: and I have to remember to clean and oil the gears more often. I start worrying about the drive train, and whether it’ll make it through the winter. (And if not, is it worth replacing it now, or waiting till spring so I don’t have to worry about destroying a new set of parts over the winter?)
Ah, the hazards of fall cycling. It’s not all grim, though. The bite in the air feels great in the mornings – cleaner in my lungs. I get wide open stretches of the path with no one else on them. As I get warmed up, I can feel the heat flushing through my chilly fingers. And the tingle in my face when I get to work is great, and flying along the bike paths by the grey river over carpets of yellow leaves makes my afternoon.
Now, shove off southwards, geese. Get out of my way.
photo by Kathryn Hunt