One of the things I never really experienced growing up in Southern California was Fall. For a kid in Los Angeles, I pretty much only remember two seasons: hot summer and warm summer. Concepts like Fall and Spring completely eluded me, except for the fact that, around October, there would be an explosion of orange and yellow in the supermarket or mall. That’s what counts for seasons sometimes. It has been a nice treat to have a real fall in one place and witness the leaves change and the air get crisper every morning.

I dusted off my trusty Surly, the bike that took me through our first 15 months of touring. It needed some air and some minor adjustments but otherwise it was in perfect working condition. Hopping on the Surly after months of riding the Brompton was strange. The bike, at first, felt slow to steer and a little sluggish out of the gate, but after a few miles I remembered why we picked the LHTs in the first place. They are great bikes. Workhorses. The sort of bike I would recommend without reservation. Sure, there are fancier bikes out there with custom doodads, but for a solid and reliable touring bike that won’t break the bank, the LHT is tough to beat.

I’ve been riding up a hill that leads to some radio towers close to Laura’s mom’s house to get my climbing legs back. It’s a decent climb, not too steep, not too long, but enough to get the blood pumping. The roads here are great for cycling. They are small country roads with little traffic and beautiful scenery. The climb up to the radio tower has some twists and turns as it undulates to the top. The trees leaning over the road are changing color and provide pleasant distraction from the climb.

When you reach the crest of the hill there is a small parking lot and dirt roads going in either direction. These are completely closed to traffic and, when you ride, all you hear is the crackle of gravel beneath your tires and your own breathing. In a couple of minutes, you’re completely enveloped by trees and all those worrying voices in your head die down. This is beautiful. As long as there are places like this and as long as you can get to them, you will be alright.

When I feel like I’ve been refreshed, I turn and ride down the hill, letting the brakes go as long as I dare. The Surly is solid beneath me and my eyes start to tear up from the air rushing by. It is still mostly country out here, but the vestiges of human activity and busyness appear.

Before too long, I too am in the thick of it again, sitting behind a computer doing the things we do to keep our trip going. As the colors change from green to orange, we know that a wet grey winter will follow and our hopes are to be in New Zealand soon.

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