Winter is a hard time of the year for most of us cyclist who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Unless, of course you are a fat biker who loves to ride in the snow. However, for most of us who ride bikes we begin the winter hibernation. We find ourselves looking for new and inventive ways to get on the trainer in our basements. We try to hold on to as much fitness as we can while putting forth a delaying action in the obscene amount of weight gain that is possible. Once in a while, winter allows us an opportunity to poke our heads out of our houses and get out on a ride; much like the groundhog looking for his shadow to predict the extent of our winter. This last Saturday was one of those rides.
It is a pleasure when I have the opportunity to ride with teammates and friends. The family man’s life with three small kids can be a bit predictable at times. With predictability comes boredom and then eventually mischief. Winter is a hard time with small children and we are practically begging for Spring to get here come February. Too many hours inside makes for a very grumpy household.
This last Saturday I had the opportunity to ride with a couple of friends and teammates from the Stoudts Brewery/JB Mountain Bike Racing Team. There was a small showing of three of us that day (Dan, Danny, and myself) and we decided to make it a spirited ride. Dan was itching to get off to a fast start and both of the Dans pretty much crushed me on all of the hills. That’s another thing that happens to cyclist over the winter; you learn how much liability all that extra weight is once the road starts going upwards.
This ride was a little different in the fact that I wanted to do a beer stop at one point in the ride. I chose Johnny and Hons Smokehouse out past Wernersville on the 422. I heard it was a biker’s bar so I figured, “heck we are on two wheels also!” The stop did not disappoint. They had beers on tap and specialty beers in the bottle. We sat at the bar and drank our glass of beer, had some conversation, told some stories, then proceeded home. It is much more enjoyable to get out on a road ride and have a designated stop to have a discussion.
It is hard for me to get out and do rides like these. Most of my bicycle riding and training involves me either getting up super early in the morning to get on the trainer, or just jumping out the door and riding whenever I can find the time. However, for my sanity as a Stay At Home Dad, it is an absolute necessity to have relationships outside of the family. I’m with the kids all day, I’m with the kids at night, I’m there preparing the food, and cleaning the messes. You can get into a serious rut without some sort of social activity outside the household. I’ve been in that rut before, and it’s a deep dark hole in which there feels like no escape.
I feel like winter gave me a gift yesterday. The weather was in the low 50’s and very comfortable once we got moving. The vibrations of the road emanating through the frame of the bicycle was a familiar feeling that warmed my soul. The increase in heart rate and respiration up each climb reaffirmed my joy with every pump of the heart. The smells of being outside filled my nostrils and brought forth expectations of spring. The sounds of cars swishing by became a familiar sound again, much like the buzzing of insects around the perfect picnic. I love these small gifts that winter gives us on occasion. Gifts that cannot be taken for granted or missed. Have fun out there everyone, and remember if you got a little chunkier this winter and are sucking wind on the hills, “Embrace the Suck!”