Monday, March 17, 2008
A Change of Season
When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads.
- Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart
Winter is cruel. At the end of a long season it's a breath of fresh air, giving riders the excuse for days off and justification for a steady diet of robust, red wines, crisp Belgian brews, and thick, homemade stews. But once the novelty of "rich foods and the expanding waistline" weans, the relentless cold, short days begin to take hold and we begin seeking relief from our sedentary routines. Some years the winter delivers a cold, but snowless experience and others bring snow...more snow...and only more snow.
Like so many others, I struggle with the indoor cycling lifestyle: I loathe the basement and the hours necessary to maintain, let alone, build fitness. During the challenging winters, I go running, where the snowy streets and biting temps are no match for the short jaunt. Admittedly, I enjoy the free time resulting from the shortened workout times (hour run vs. a three hour ride) and the magic that running works on my BMI. (Like a smart investor, I am seeking maximum return on a minimal investment.) By the middle of winter my miles and subsequent fitness makes running almost enjoyable. Almost. As I'm jogging, I find myself thinking about riding: what these roads look like without snow, without frigid temps, the sensations a bicycle delivers, the feeling of coasting, and how fluid the drops feel mid-season. I often ask myself Why do I live in such a cold and unforgiving climate? Then I think about the years I did live in a warm climate and how despite comfortable year-round temps there was a season, a time the bike shop business would slow from October to May. Like a bellows to coals, the winter fires me up, I reflect on the fun I had the previous season, I crunch the training numbers and perform the much needed, complete overhaul on my machine. These peripheral activities bring me back in touch with my passion and rekindle my love.
As the seasons begin to turn over and winter turns to spring, I find myself eager to ride my bike, the burnout I felt in September washed away like the salt from the roads and my relationship with the bike patched like the potholes and frost heaves scattered about the roadways. Whether your "off-season" is defined by snow and freezing temps, or gray skies and rain, the "off-season" is the "off-bike" season, a period of healing, recharging the batteries, and reinvigorating the soul.
As my pal JO says, December is the holidays, January comes before February, February is the start of the race season, March is the start of the Classics, and April, well, you know what happens in April. Suddenly, and seemingly without effort, spring arrives and yet another cycling season gets underway.