This is why autumn is surprisingly awesome for cycling in Metro Vancouver

North Shore News, Pedal Pushers


Summer has come and passed / The innocent can never last / Wake me up when September ends.

Cycling in autumn means the trail traffic is lighter and you can find some glorious surprises as the trees put on a colourful show. photo Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier

Green Day caught a mood with their 2004 hit “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

Yes, gone are the burnished days and long twilights of cycling in the summer. Spinning down those tropical afternoons on the Spirit Trail at Harbourside. Sharing the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve path with the black bears. Toiling up Highland Boulevard and grabbing a lemonade from the local kids. Summer has come and passed.

No despair here, though. Despite the morning chill and the impending monsoons, fall is a special season for people who use a bike for transportation.

In Vancouver there are parks and then there is “The Park.” Stanley Park that is. Riding home from pretty much anywhere across the water, lacy green hemlocks and towering Douglas firs can escort you along. These days, “The Park” shows its fall colors off and it is worth a ride through the trails instead of the causeway. Catch the cool smell of leaves returning to the earth riding up the Hanson trail toward the causeway. Check out the wee duck pond replete with water and feathered denizens again. Watch for frost on the wooden bridge on Pipeline Road.

It sounds counterintuitive, but with fall official, Pedal Pushers are looking forward to some legitimate rain. Some of our best rides have been in the first honest rains of autumn. Real rain means that pounding, purposeful, soaks-you-in-a-minute kind. Not that wimpy summer mist. We are talking about the kind of deluge that floods roads and backs up drains creating those six-inch-deep puddles which are super fun to glide through. Municipal crews have to put out those “Road Flooded” signs. You know the kind.

Why are these days special? Well, for one thing pretty much no one else is riding so you have almost any path to yourself. And, if you do spot someone else, there is an unspoken camaraderie through a common recognition of your ridiculous persistence. So long as you can keep your hands, feet and torso dry, nothing else really matters. Not even when the bus slams water over your entire anatomy.

Fall is memorable. There’s no way to forget autumn nights like the one where the hull Hunter’s Moon hangs above while you ride over Lions Gate Bridge – steam and frosty breath rising from your warm body. You are snug, lights glow ahead against the dark, protective mountains. The sentinel Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn (Twin Sisters) calling you home.

The world is big and wild and wet. You are part of its beating heart.

We guarantee that people in cars don’t get this feeling “when September ends.”

The North Shore Pedal Pushers are Heather Drugge and Antje Wahl. The guy who makes the column readable, Dan Campbell, prefers driving. See – we can all work together.