Sunday, January 22, 2012

Longing for Spring

Winter finally came to the Inland Northwest this week.  All the signs were here: snow, power outages and pick-up trucks in ditches.  With that came the bane of the cyclist's world - the trainer.

For the last months, even as November, December and half of January wore on, lots of cyclists were still outside rolling around.  It was cold, but with some decent technical clothing, it was surprisingly ride-able.  Some make the switch to mountain bikes, with more protected trails and lower windspeeds, but even on the road, it was nice to be outside.  Even a week ago, I found myself thinking that maybe global climate change isn't so bad if I get to ride my bike right through the winter.  I'll be dead by the time the world succumbs to famine and pestilence and I get to ride my bike in the meantime, right?

Anyway, all of that came to an end with the snow-pocalypse of last week.  Of course, when I was a kid, we just called it a snow storm, but the jack-asses who now produce local television insist that every weather event is the equivalent of biblical swarm of locusts devastating everything in sight, but anyway, the roads are no longer hospitable for bike riding.  As a result, I hit the pain-cave. (When I was a kid we called that the basement, but now we have to hero-ize all our actions so instead of being a middle-aged guy enjoying his hobby and fighting back the bulge, instead I am involved in an epic struggle of titanic importance that requires me to enter the PAIN CAVE!!!!!)(Apparently cynicism is the word of the day).

So where was I?  Oh yeah.  I went into the basement to get on the trainer.  I have a pretty nice set-up for riding my trainer with an old bike frame permanently affixed to a Kurt Kinetic trainer (actually I just got a new one at Steve's On Cannon, passing along the 10-year old Kurt Kinetic trainer to my kids) set-up in front of the old family TV and a library of cycling videotapes and DVDs stretching back to the 70's.  I have a long-standing habit of starting with my oldest recordings and watching them chronologically from the oldest to the newest and then starting over again.  It keeps them all reasonably fresh and I love watching the progression from the amphetamine-enhanced, wool-jersey-wearing athletes to clenbuterol-enhanced, lycra-jersey-wearing athletes.  And, thus set up, I can sit on the damn thing for an extended period of time.  Yesterday, with only a modicum of fitness, I managed to eek out 2 hours, 45 minutes.  Today, I will endure a bit more, all in hopes of being ready for the snow to subside and the fun to begin again.  Which brings me to my point.

Last year, I seemed to struggle with winter more than usual.  Most winters, I enjoy the snow, I go skiing, and like not having yard-work.  It all seems okay and then I look forward to spring with a normal amount of joy.  Last year, however, I was deeply yearning for the warm sun.  I became oddly obsessed with the feeling of the sun warming my skin in just that perfect way where it feels good and life-affirming.  It was a peculiar feeling for me, because I am a long way from a sun worshiper and I assure you, no one in their right mind, including me, is longing to see my carcass warming in the sun.  So why was I hit with that last year?  I think I know now.  It was those cycling videos.

Yesterday, I watched a few stages of the 2007 Tour de France, including about 90 minutes of coverage of one stage (thank goodness for the 15 hour DVD set) where the temperature was perfect for the day.  The fans were clad in shorts, a few in bikini tops, and the cyclists were warm in the valleys and okay across the mountain summits.  In other words, one of those perfect days.  And I was sitting there on my trainer, in the cold basement with a view of the daylight window with snow outside and frost on the panes, thinking of how nice it would be to feel the sun.

It could be a long time until spring if this trainer time keeps up.  I think I'll go hibernate instead.

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