Bicycle riding with a camera in my backpack combines several of my personal passions. A good camera? $600. A good bicycle? $1,200 The feeling of solitude surrounded by Sonoma County? Priceless. I know, I know, I took that line from American Express but it works. There is nothing finer than a dawn ride on Sunday, no matter what time of the year. I am in awe of the the Sonoma County hills EVERY time I ride them. There are always seasonal colors, spectacular no matter what the season.
In summer, the light starts early. I can be on the road by 5:00 am without any concerns about visibility. I usually set off out High School Road to the Laguna de Santa Rosa (aka "the laguna"). The laguna is boarded by dairy land and always has an abundance of wildlife. I often stop and photograph the stillness as the sun rises over the hills to the east. In winter and spring, the laguna can and frequently does flood. I can get the best images of the reflections of bare trees shimmering under and above the surface of the water.
Fall and winter have real challenges and powerful rewards of their own. The morning sun is later coming up and there is a noticeable difference in the amount of vehicular traffic on the road. Fog can always be an issue in Western Sonoma County and the ice that starts showing up in late October makes for tricky curves. Gotta say it though: dealing with the fog, the ice, and the frozen fingers is part of the appeal of those early morning rides. It's the sharp colors of fall that make those rides so impressive. The rolling hills are planted in vineyards and the colors can be so exquisite, so defined, so intense that I have to stop and stare. Winter brings its own colors. It's not the colorful world of the other three seasons but it is a stark, deeply rich, and poignant set of colors. The cold and bare trees stand boldly against an often grey but sometimes brilliant blue sky. I do my best to avoid rain (not safe) but sometimes rain happens and when it does, I take it in and let it take over.
I really do get a lot of rewards out of my biking. My mind and imagination appreciate the solitude. Legs, lungs, and heart love the workout they get. I ride on these early morning rides with earbuds tucked into my helmet and music pumping the pedals. The combination of visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile experiences in one ride can be such a rich high. And that is the high that sticks in my memory when I am trudging through the work week. I do get a taste of the Sunday experience when I ride my bike to work most days but those short rides are really just condiments compared to the weekend adventures.