Category: Cycling

The Not-Summer Season

The Not-Summer Season

Perhaps the most noticeable change of seasons in coastal Alabama is when we have less humidity in our air. Humidity seems to fuel everything here. Sodden, seemingly melting air is never missed by those of us who call the Gulf Coast home. By the end of the summer–October–we reach a dazed lack of tolerance for clothes sticking to our sweaty skin.

So it is with an audible sigh of relief that I report our first real cold front of the autumn season moved through yesterday. It was like a freight train from hell with tornados, lightning, winds and rain that fell in sheets rather than drops. The one or two earlier little fronts didn’t compare to this doozie.

I got in a good bicycle ride early in the morning but the early-arriving, pre-front clouds pelted me with the biggest raindrops I’ve ever seen. It felt like stinging nettles as I pushed and pedaled against a strong headwind to escape the rain.

It’s nice when the transition from one season to the next isn’t so violent. But sometimes change can be quite dramatic….and even painful. However, the outcome is definitely worth it.

I look forward to a chilly ride in the morning. Just hoping my cycling shoes are dried out and my helmet isn’t soggy. And might I add, Welcome Autumn!

Frogs & Clouds–An Illuminating Experience

Frogs & Clouds–An Illuminating Experience

In preparation for a yoga and cycling retreat in Ireland, I purchased a light system for my bicycle. So when I woke up at 4.30am the trails called. Not sunrise yet? No problem!

The waning moon offered light as did the stars but in order to avoid Mr. No-Shoulders and little amphibians I used my new headlight. It was an illuminating experience.

First, being on the trail an hour before sunrise gave me a glimpse into creatures that I rarely see. And mostly, it was frogs with an occasional toady. Some appeared to have springs in their legs as they leaped in a single bound across two bicycle lanes. Others stared me down and refused to move, their bright, beady eyes sparkling with greed at insects swarming over their moist, green heads.

When I got to the beach it was clouds that illuminated my mind and heart. Every shape and color seemed to shine in the pre-dawn light. Stars, planets and that waning moon all joined with the clouds and Gulf of Mexico to create a remarkable experience. I found it difficult to get back on my bicycle and turn my back to the spectacle.

But eventually I did and the entire ride was filled with clouds and colors and yes…more frogs–who seem to love the new boardwalks across the marsh. It was one of those epic rides that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.

Illumination….shining light where there was none. Funny how something I bought for road cycling safety in another country brought me into another realm of beauty this morning. All I had to do was say, Yes!

Slithering, Scampering….Cycling

Slithering, Scampering….Cycling

SimoneLipscomb (1)The no-shouldered friends have been more active recently on the backcountry trail where I ride but today they were hogging the paved trails. Seriously snakes! My feet are clipped onto my pedals and I don’t want to squish you. I have seen several water snakes that have a very similar pattern to the Cottonmouth but they have a small head and are longer and leaner..and non-poisonous. But if I’m moving at 12 mph through dappled, shaded pavement there is a distinct possibility that my first reaction is…OH, SNAP!

I don’t mind them taking up one lane of the trail but today one got really greedy and took up two lanes of the paved trail so I had to brake and hit the grass and get back on the trail without unclipping my feet. Thankfully it was a successful maneuver for both of us.

SimoneLipscomb (6)Later, a black racer lounged on the right lane so I veered left to avoid him or her and there was serious slithering as the beautiful snake raced back into the marsh grass. But I’m afraid I might have run over the tip of a garter snake’s tail.

SimoneLipscomb (3)Traveling in the live oak forest on a high (that’s a relative term in coastal Alabama…33 feet elevation is high for the beach) ridge, a small garter snake was nearly invisible in the shade. I tried to avoid this sweet snake but I think perhaps the end of the tail was nipped by my back tire. Should be okay though as no vital organs were crushed.

SimoneLipscomb (8)Squirrels were in psycho mode today as they played chicken with my bicycle. What the heck fuzzy goobers? Numerous squirrels were definitely risking a nasty encounter with a bicycle…or perhaps they were entertaining themselves by seeing if they could make me run off the road. Regardless, it was insane!

SimoneLipscomb (5)Cycling in the state park is like an 18 mile meditation with wildlife and beautiful marshes, forests and swamps. Today I listened to whale songs as I pedaled…and sang along. At one point I stopped mimicking the whale’s beautiful song and laughed. If anyone heard me belting out whale song or saw me dodging snakes or squirrels they would wonder what I had for breakfast. After that brief laughter-filled pause, I continued my singing and pedaling…my meditation. Not a bad way to begin the day.