It’s a “crisp” March morning. You think “crisp”, because “butt-ass cold” is too difficult to get over in your mind. It’s all about perspective.
The high temp for the day isn’t going to sniff anything above freezing. You assure yourself that you’ll be okay, that your eyes don’t start to freeze shut till well below zero with your new glasses that have the foam cups so they seal to your melon.
There’s a nagging committee member in your head who keeps trying to take the spotlight… “Man, you don’t wanna do this. Ride the fricking turbo and call it good. Who the hell do you think you are, Lance? You’re a frickin’ old man. Act like it for once.”
Dammit, that trainer sounds good…
You look at your legs as you try to warm up in the shower. They aren’t as awesome as they were just a few months ago. Not as chiseled. There’s a new layer of fat over your gut that you’d worked off last summer. It’s not much, only five pounds, certainly less than ten…Isn’t it?!
The road is better than the trainer, you know it is. It’s harder, works you more. You’re going to need the miles come May. But the trainer would be so warm… And boring.
Besides, you’re part of a group now. Your buds are going to need you – today and once we get into the season…
F— you, trainer.
One leg warmer, then the other. One knee warmer then the other. Compression shorts, cycling shorts. Arm warmers, jersey, long sleeve jersey, jacket, neck gaiter… Hat, two layers of gloves… You throw the pump in the car because if you pump the tires up in the house, you’ll lose at least 10% when the rubber hits the cold. Helmet, insulated water bottles to keep the Perpetuem and H2O from freezing…
Yep, it’s that freakin’ cold…
The first mile sucks and you’re wondering what the hell you were thinking. The second mile isn’t much better, but that third mile… 6-1/2 minutes and you become comfortable. I hesitate to say “warm up” because at 19 degrees, you never really warm up. You can’t sweat, it’ll freeze. You have to dance a fine line that is “comfortably cool”.
The next forty miles fly by and, despite the cold, you’re so glad to be outside after that gnarly winter. You pull into the parking lot with a smile on your face.
F— that trainer.
You sleep better that night than you have in a month.
You’re 50 miles into the hardest ride you’ve ever been on. You’re lean, mean and absolutely having the time of your life. You’re cruising up the hills (and the whole freaking ride has been nothing but hills), nailing the descents, just cruisin’. Somewhere around 65 miles in the real climbing starts. The hills are no longer “hills”. They’d be fricken ramps to Heaven if you were riding a crotch rocket. You spin up the first one, passing everyone on the mountain. Then the second. Then the third.
75 miles in and you’re off the front, just cruising. It’s all good. 80 miles, you’re still off the front. 85 miles. You’ve been out front for a half-hour and you realize you don’t know the shortcut back to the hotel so you’d better wait for everyone else. One of your friends says, “Man, you’re doing awesome, you were just cruisin’ right along!” And you are. Life is good.
The turbo trainer has its place, there is no doubt, but in my world, it’s reserved for when it’s so gnarly out only a nut would ride.
And chapeau to the nuts, because to most, I’m one too.