Midsummer passed near the end of July, a milestone that saddens bicyclists who view the glass as half-empty after that date. More positive personalities look at the glass as half-full and yell, “Yahoo.” We still have 153 days of pedaling before official winter, but by early December, snow and ice storms may make roads iffy or impossible. But at times pedalers enjoy myriad days through winter.

August may produce blistering heat and oppressive humidity, but Mainers can now enjoy bicycling days as good as in May and June – if they pedal before the sun rises fairly up. Lots of folks feel the same way, and why not? The eighth month strikes them (and me) as ideal for daybreak rides.

Early September continues like more of August, but by mid-month, dawns can break unseasonably frigid at times. When I first drop down the hill from my home in the day’s first gray light, it can feel ever so cold, but two miles later I’m plenty warm. Then, mid-morning produces respectable temperatures. In fact, if the pedal downhill from my home doesn’t chill me, I’ll be way too warm in a short while and need to shed clothes. October can offer absolutely delightful late morning bicycling, too, as can November, but some fall days require quality bicycling clothing to thwart the cold.

By December after snow and ice storms, trucks have covered pavement with enough sand to flip a bicyclist upside-down, but passing traffic “air washes” pavement. Days pass in the 12th month with ideal pedaling conditions for those of us with the right clothing and attitude.

But talking about December is getting ahead of myself.

August offers perfect pedaling for those who choose a time when the air is coolest. Even 90-plus-degrees don’t disappoint me because high heat burns calories and reduces fat. However, bicyclists in such weather must drink plenty of cool fluids – at least 20 ounces per hour works for me.

Not to change the subject, but one feature of bicycling thrills me in any month. When I hit the road in the morning with the whole day ahead, it reminds me of a three-word line in a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies commercial – “childhood is calling.” That’s how I feel with absolutely nothing to interrupt my pedaling plans, nothing but how much energy my legs can produce.

I keep track of the bicycling scene in Maine and the nation, and road and trail biking continue to grow in popularity. In my area, bicyclists dot highways with breakdown lanes such as Routes 27, 2, 3, 17, 32 and 202, but a statistic on the Bicycle Coalition of Maine website recently popped my eyes. BCM claims this state has over 50 bicycle shops, and a few years ago I noticed a newspaper figure that alleged Maine had 70-plus shops.

Compare those numbers to Maine’s inventory of sports and fly-fishing shops. One feature of Maine’s bicycle shops also impresses me. Most of them remind me of a line in the late Jud Strunk’s song “Bill Jones’ General Store.” Strunk crooned, “If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.” Inventory in these businesses wows me.

There are two big reasons for getting into Maine bicycling – great fun and superb exercise:

First, let’s talk about the fun. Not long ago I was telling my doctor that few days pass from April through early December when I don’t bicycle, and in fact, I said to the doctor that I’d bicycle even if it were bad for me. I love to pedal a country road under a foliage canopy, feel wind on skin and listen to the soft whir of a chain against teeth – that well-lubricated, metal-against-metal sound while rubber kisses pavement – a biker’s high.

Second, bicycling offers cardiovascular exercise, and it’s never too late for folks to start a regimen. The sport provides aerobic benefits, and also hardens my forearms and particularly legs. Hill climbing also yields anaerobic results, which you hear less about when folks talk bicycling. However, pedaling up a long, steep hill equals weightlifting for legs.

When I’m talking with non-bicyclists without a clue about this sport, I sometimes think they don’t believe my distance figures because they think of miles in terms of walking or running – not bicycling. But a ho-hum pedaler can average 12 miles per hour; an adequate bicycler can hit 18 mph. Please do the math. Those speeds cover 12 to 18 miles in one hour and 24 to 36 in two hours. In short, bicyclists with skills ranking from dubbers to skilled ones cover plenty of ground during a morning jaunt.

In some years I have pedaled 140 miles per week, but 2015 isn’t one of them. I’m writing two books, which cuts into my schedule big time.

The message here, folks? Bicycling offers us grand fun and better health – all under a wide sky and beside forested hills, pristine waters, fields, uplands, wetlands, croplands, villages and cities. What more can we ask from a sport that cost little beyond the bicycle, clothing and simple gear? And as I have said here before, beginners might consider a lawn-sale bike.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at

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