It’s Freezing Outside but the Cycling is Fine

I'd like to say this is me but it's not. I took this picture during "Snowmageddon" in Washington, D.C. last winter.

After spending most of the summer and fall letting my bicycle gather dust in our basement, I’m back on the road and loving it.

What’s that you say? It’s cold outside? And you’re loving it?  What the devil are doing on a freakin’ bike in arctic temperatures? You’ll freeze your kiester off! Or something else more important!

All I can say in reply is that it’s a good time of year to ride a bike.

Really. I’m not kidding.

While most cyclists have long since hung up their bikes for the winter, my riding season is just beginning. I did the same thing last year and the year before that.

I like to ride in cold weather. It’s invigorating. A bone-chilling bicycle ride puts a little color in the cheeks and gets the blood pumping. It also keeps the neighbors off-balance. They already think I’m a little nutty and I want to keep it that way.

The other reason for ramping up my riding during the winter months has more to do with my ego. I hesitate to fess up to it, but cold weather riding spares me the trauma of riding with my neighbor (or anyone else capable of showing me up for that matter). The man is a monster cyclist. While I’m riding in a straight line from point A to point B he literally does circles around me the whole way. I’m huffing and puffing. He’s not even breathing hard.

We once rode from Martinsburg to Shepherdstown and back together. I hate to admit it, but it was at my suggestion and I’m lucky I didn’t need an ambulance. As for him? He was hardly fazed by the 40-plus miles we put on our bikes. Afterwards, he did some chores around the yard, showered and went to work. I spent the rest of the day sprawled on the couch doped up on Advil.

My wife saw us riding that day. We were almost home and I was slogging along, sweat dripping from the end of my nose and nearly at the limit of my endurance, when she passed me in her car. She honked and gave me a cheery wave. I was too feeble to wave back so I just bobbed my head up and down. At about mid-bob, I noticed just how far ahead of me our neighbor was. He looked like a speck on the horizon. My wife took careful note of that, too. She rousted me from the couch later to tease me for slipping so far behind and riding so slow that I might as well have been on a tricycle.

While cold weather cycling has its attractions, I will allow that the more mild temperatures of spring make for pleasurable riding, too (I’m not completely crazy). However, spring’s arrival also serves to remind me that (1) I’m a year older (my birthday is in April) and (2) the impending misery of summer will soon have us all sweltering in heat and humidity.  Hot temperatures may inspire other people to head outside to sweat it out, but for me, the warmer it gets, the less likely I am to do anything that induces perspiration. I’d rather retreat to the climate-controlled atmosphere of my home, thank you very much.  I’m paying for the privilege, after all.

So, here we are. It’s January and I’ve got a few months of good riding weather ahead of me.

And the best part?

I’ve got the cycling mostly to myself, away from my bike-riding betters.

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