Tuesday, March 19

And the Seasons Roll On By

A few days ago (before my running injury) I visited the local bike shop on my lunch break to pick up some cable ends. An older gentleman was perusing the bike shoes. One of the shop guys called over to him familiarly to see if he needed anything, but he said he didn’t. And as their conversation evolved I got the impression that the older man was one of the elder statesmen—or at least in the running to be so—of the local cycling scene.

And then he said it. He said those words that have set my teeth on edge since as far back as my earliest rock climbing days. These words make me want to stand up in the middle of the room and yell “what’s wrong with you wool-headed, milk-skinned, limp-legged, silly-song-and-dance wannabe weekend warriors?!” He said:

“Well, the season is almost here.”

Are. You. Kidding me?
(Imagine Lewis Black presenting the following rant)
For one thing, the 39th Parallel is quite temperate in winter lo, these past half dozen decades or so. If sunny and 50F isn’t a good time to ride a bike, when the @#$! is? And another, who gets to determine when the so-called season begins and ends? Is there a committee meeting I can attend to voice my opposition?
I pity these poor folks who hang up their bikes (or climbing gear) in the garage and mothball all their athletic clothing until April, or—dogs forbid—May, and miss out on half the gol-darned year.
Now, I understand, some people just don’t enjoy participating in outdoor recreation in cold or snotty weather. I get that. But for crying out loud, winter in Kentucky is hardly. The lines between the seasons are kinda fuzzy, and not well established. As far as which season should be the “off” season I would put in my resounding vote for summer. Summers suck here in the arctic section of the Southeast. 90+F temperature and total humidity (100%) combined with bugs, dogs, car exhaust and migrating Buckeyes…it’s just not a fun time to be out from under the AC in my home state. Fall, Winter and Spring are far more suitable for spending time outside and exerting yourself…just sayin’.
Okay, assuming you don’t have a debilitating disease that is compounded by extremely cold temperatures…and assuming you don’t live in Alaska or Boise…AND assuming you’re not a complete and total namby-pamby…what is to stop you from riding on—for crying out LOUD—paved roads on nice days during the winter months? Nothing. You know, the evil black void that eats up the universe in that ‘80s fantasy classic The Neverending Story—The Nothing. That’s all that can really stop you: a lack of @#$!ing imagination.
I know of people who ride on nothing but a trainer all winter. I know of people who just don’t ride. And do you know what? I kind of like it. I like having the trails to myself on nice sunny days when I’m not inclined to sweat like a fat kid in a locker room full of jocks. It’s nice to have bicycle facilities to yourself. Cars can’t use them, and if they’re clogged up with bikes then they start to feel like roads.
From the standpoint of the bike shops I can see a definite benefit to an “on” and “off” season. Off season means a break from humoring the spray-lords loitering in your shop, hinting around that they want a sponsorship for their Cat-6 commuter races. Off season means more time to actually get out and ride. During “the season” you can actually work with the lights and AC on in the shop instead of using candles to conserve precious profit. So there are trade-offs.
Rant over.

The night previous to my visit to the bike shop I had a dream. It revealed a bit about the changes in my cycling mentality over the past three months, and I want to share it with you. I had a meeting downtown that same day as the bike shop visit, and I planned on riding Minus (’86 Bianchi SX) to the meeting instead of driving and having to pay for parking. Plus, I just needed an(y) excuse to ride.
In the dream I went to the meeting, but in the midst of it I realized I had forgotten to lock up Minus (my version of going to school/work naked) and started to panic. And then later in the meeting my wife dropped off Bean and left before I could tell her that I was on the road bike and had no way to transport my youngest spawn back home.
Of course when I left the meeting Bean was missing and so was the bike. When I finally made it home my daughter sat grinning over dinner at the table, but I was short a bicycle.
I’m not one to go on about the meaning of dreams, but this one is clear: the thought of commuting to a meeting in an unfamiliar city had me stressed. What’s different about that is that just a few short months ago I would have welcomed the challenge and scoffed at any negative thoughts. Not only have I stopped burning as many calories of late, but my mind is sinking into lethargy as well. This must cease.
In conclusion, and as an aside, I ended up driving to the meeting because immediately after I’d arrived at work it began snowing and turned the streets sloppy. I wasn’t afraid of riding in the changing conditions, but I had only planned for riding in dry conditions in my khaki pants and button up shirt (under a sweater, obviously). Since it was a morning meeting I knew my pants would end up all grungy from the ride, and I had to remain presentable for the rest of the day. I had not planned accordingly. That won’t happen again.
I am resolved no longer to give in to the laziness that is soaking into my bones. From now on I’ll plan on riding to in town meetings regardless of the weather, the timing or otherwise.

And of course in my desperation of fatness I took off running through the woods and jacked up my ankle.


  1. Do you think you are going to be able to ride soon?

  2. BTW. I crashed my MTB on my training ride Saturday. Riding a dirt road climb. Got snowy and icy near the top. Little voice said: this is NOT a good idea. Had a wheel slide out on the way down. Bruised my shoulder. Not too bad. Just enough to remind me that the little voice is sometimes right.