Well, now it begins.
I commute by bike most days, and roughly half of my journey is on the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail, a very popular multi-use path here in Northern VA. I've been commuting on it for almost 5 years now, starting in December 2002, and every year, the pattern is the same. The trail is deserted through the winter, but when the first warm days of spring arrive, folks start coming out. It builds up to summer, when riding on the weekend is just crazy with so many folks out there. Even weekdays, especially after 5:00 pm, are busy.
Then Labor Day hits. The day itself is a madcap swirl of cyclists, runners, walkers, and rollerbladers, all frantically trying to get in their last day of outdoor abandon. If anything, it's even busier out there than the summer weekends.
Now, the gradual, or not so gradual, dwindling begins. Soon I'll find I see few other folks on the trail on weekdays. Then the weekends will thin out too. As evenings are drawing shorter, already I can say I have less company on the way home. Before long, we'll hit "sweater weather"... and I'll have the trail virtually to myself again. And then it will snow... and about all I will see of other people on the trail is their footprints or the ocassional, rare, wheel track. I'll be out there, studded tires and wool, and enjoying the solitude again. Knowing full well that come April...