Coffeeneuring is the month's cycling challenge and it requires 7 weekend rides, all including a stop for a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate, all completed before Nov. 11. This holiday weekend is the only weekend permitting 2 rides. Simple arithmetic tells me that in order not to fail before starting, I need two successful rides right now, one today, one tomorrow. Today I rode to my nearest coffee shop, in the nearby town of Dalton, about 11 miles north. (There are some general stores closer by that will count in a pinch, since they will sell me a cuppa.)
Sometime while I was in sunny southern France, summer departed the chilly, northern, Berkshires. Trees lost their leaves, summer flowers disappeared, the sun lost much of its warmth and the days are short. Apple season is here, and the roadsides are loaded with fallen fruit. This young porcupine wasn't the least disturbed by me or my bike. If you look carefully, you'll see the remains of its apple on the ground.
The Canada geese are still here, and will be until the ponds and lakes freeze solid. They are handsome dignified birds on water ... until they tip down to browse for food, when they have something comical about them.
This is the flattest ride possible from home, and after riding in the Pyrenees it did seem very flat, without hills altogether. One day while riding near Arrens-Marsous, on terrain I thought flat, I noticed that without touching a pedal I was moving forward at just over 15mph. That doesn't happen here. Guess it wasn't so flat as imagined, but it did provide a good commentary on how geography can influence perspective and understanding.
Friends who visited Amsterdam not too long ago regaled me with stories of bicycles in that city, stories which I suppose have helped to open my eyes to other bikes here. I usually notice loaded bikes, since there are relatively few of them. Stopping to take a look at this one, there were a few surprises: little wheels that I associate with Bike Friday, pedals out in front like a recumbent, a seat midway between a recumbent and a road bike, four water bottles, and a drive train like none I've seen. And very loaded. This bike has a story to tell, but it was keeping its secrets.
Dalton did provide a cup of coffee, so the day's goal was met. The town is the home of Crane and Company, a paper mill that uses cotton to manufacture paper for US currency, along with that of several other nations. Crane is a good player in the Berkshires: with 200+ years here, it continues to support its local community's environmental, education, recreation, and other social needs, as well as provide jobs.
Observing details missed when travelling by cars is a joy from a bike seat, though photos do require multiple stops. When people's hands and heads are paying attention, they can transform details from the mundane into the beautiful. This footbridge and terraced petite waterfalls link two houses. Unnecessary, and beautiful.
The visual world here is returning to somber shades of grey, dark green, browns. Soon snowfalls and ice will dominate the palette with whites. In the meantime sumac, an invasive species, lights up roadsides with its leaves looking like prayer flags in the breeze, or perhaps color studies for some design.
And turning a corner, these berries, in front of a blown-out cattail in the swamp, did their bit to add color.
Tomorrow hopefully will bring another coffee-inspired ride. Number one of seven was a good excuse to get out and riding again.