Fall has always been a special Time of year for me. Growing up, every October we had our last camping trip of the season. We would head to higher grounds, just my dad, grandpa and I to hunt deer. It was the time of year that we dug through our drawers to find our long underwear and those bright orange jackets we only used for 10 days out of the year. And for some reason, I was always stuck looking for a beanie.
I didn’t miss a deer hunt until after high school and I had moved to Chile.
It was there that I first felt the nostalgia of fall. At first, I was unsure of what it was. Partially because it was the wrong month of the year to be feeling such things, but also the fact that I was on the opposite side of the world and had more or less blocked out any memories that would make me miss home. Regardless, it was there. It struck me on an evening, as these things tend to do, and it was unmistakable. Thousands of miles away from the nearest mule deer and I suddenly felt the urge to go camping, eat some pine nuts and be cold.
Granted it took me about three or four autumns to realize what it was about the air cooling and the days shortening that I was missing, I tend to be slow about some things. I need to be outside. I haven’t hunted in years but I could tell you the weekend that it happens based on the weather.
I assume that it was those 15 years or so of spending a week in the woods every October that made me love Autumn or maybe it’s just the final relenting of the heat that I adore, but as it stands this is my absolute favorite time of year.
And before someone from the peanut gallery pipes up about pumpkin spice and seasonal thanksgiving beers and coffee, that has zero to do with it. You can categorize that shit under the “holidays” folder in my “I hate this fucking stuff” filing drawers. I have it on good authority that cats invented pumpkin spice.
I avoid that tradition at all costs.
My traditions are less universal and are based on things that I have just kind of started doing and have kept doing. It was more by chance and sudden need that 12 years ago I purchased my first wool jersey.
It was an ugly, by all descriptions, blue and grey Ibex jersey. I don’t recall the exact circumstances of its purchase, just that I knew I was going to be cold on the way home. It was my size and hell, who doesn’t want to look like Mr. Rogers. I’m pretty sure I only planned on wearing it that one time. However, I was so blown away by how awesome it was to ride in that it has been a go to piece for me every autumn since.
I fell in love, and not that “Oh my god I love this cup of coffee” despite the fact that there’s nothing special about it, it’s just your mood kind of love. No, I’m talking about falling head over heals in love to the point that you are willing to commit the rest of your life, kind of love.
For those of you who haven’t worn wool before, it is kind of like wrapping yourself in your grandma’s arms on a cold winter’s eve and you feel her snuggle you warm as you slowly fall asleep without a care in the world. In more literal terms, wool keeps you warm but does it in a way that also keeps you cool. It keeps you dry and it doesn’t stink. If you pick the weight of your wool appropriately, you shouldn’t have to remove it throughout a complete day’s riding.
My Ibex jersey has never let me down in 12 years of use. As a mid-weight wool, it tends to be used on cooler mornings or evening rides. I have used it as a layer on commutes in single digits and as outer layers on 40+ mountain bike rides. Its weight gives it a feeling of quality that assures you it will last the long haul. With more than a decade of use, mine still has that feeling. Its only weak point is the zipper which hasn’t been capable of completely unzipping for about four years. Normally, this would cause me to toss a piece of apparel or donate it to some less fortunate hobo. With this jersey, it’s such an awesome layer that I just slip it on over my head and don’t even think about it.
I’ve gotten warm in this jersey and sweated a lot. It has never once thought about stinking or allowing me to get wet. Even used as a mid layer under a less than breathable rain jacket, it wicked my sweat to the outer layer leaving me dry while the inner side of the jacket became soaked with my perspiration.
This one piece of clothing has inspired me to purchase countless other wool items. It’s actually become a bit of a tradition to purchase a new, long sleeve wool jersey every fall. Just as the temperature starts to drop and I put my old Ibex jersey on for its first commute of the season, I somehow find myself shopping for new ones that are a little more fashionable. Of course, I have a bowl of pine nuts next to me and I’m wearing an orange beanie whilst doing it. It’s kind of my equivalent of making a list for Santa.
P. L. and R.