This time, Fall is fun.

DSC01429On my ride home today, I reflected how different Fall was last year.

I was…
Spending every spare second reading articles about winter biking.
Scouring forums to learn from as many winter bikers as I could.
Analyzing winter gear like every decision could make or break me.
Thinking, “Can I really do this?” on every commute.
Hearing, “You are gonna die!”, from concerned family and friends.
Wondering, “Are snowplows going to see me?”
Hoping I hadn’t lost my mind.
Feeling scared.

I was so concerned about winter, the wonder of Autumn was completely lost on me. I missed out on enjoying the crops being harvested, the pumpkins, the squirrels storing acorns. The colorful leaves held no delight, every falling leaf was a signal that winter would come soon. Was I ready? I didn’t think so.DSC01450

But this year, Fall is fun. I enjoy seeing the animals scurrying around gathering food for the winter. The drop in temperature makes me smile instead of filling me with dread. The colorful leaves are splendid and delightful. And every falling leaf tells me, “Winter is coming!” This time, I know enough to be excited.

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Getting Ready for Winter-Acclimatization

I don’t know about where you live, but around here October has the power to unleash a few snowstorms at whim. So I am doing everything I can do to insure that when the snow flies my bike and I will be ready for it.

An important part of my preparation for the coming winter is getting my body used to colder temperatures again. Back in April 35 degrees felt balmy, but right now it feels downright chilly. There is a purpose to autumn beyond pretty-colored leaves and pumpkin patches and that purpose is to be a transitional period into winter.

For the past few weeks I have been using the cooler autumn temperatures to let my body get used to keeping itself warm again. I don’t do anything too weird or drastic, but after the heat of summer I do have to ignore the impulse to throw on layers of clothing just because the temperature has began to drop. Here are a couple things I am doing to get my body thermostat adjusted.

I keep my windows open and the heat off.
I love a fresh breeze anyway and after so many warm nights in summer the crisp air helps me to get a good night sleep. If the temperature stays below freezing all day I will probably shut my windows, but only until the temperature gets warm again.

I dress for comfort, not warmth.
Frostbite is not a fun thing to mess around with, so when I am biking on cold mornings, I always cover my ears and hands. Beyond that, I dress to keep my torso and legs comfortable but not warm. It can be tricky to get right sometimes but I always carry extra clothing if I feel like I am getting chilled.

I use movement to stay warm.
Whenever I feel cold I try amping up my activity level before reaching for a long-sleeved hoodie. I want my body to do the work of keeping me warm without relying on extra clothing. If I have been sitting down, taking my dogs for a walk usually does the trick.

I stay outdoors as much as possible.
This is the most important one-the more time I spend outside in the changing temperatures, the more ready I am going to be for when it really gets cold.

It basically boils down to enjoying autumn the way it is meant to be enjoyed-without a parka!

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Two weeks ago

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Today

Of course the real question is, do these habits actually make a difference? Both of these photos were taken at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, if you look closely you can tell there has already been a slight change so far.