Winter in Michigan sucks for cycling. Oh, sure, I could buy another bike, with fat tires and ride through just about anything but I still hate the cold. For me, it’s like cycling in the wind: Riding in the wind sucks when compared to a nice, sunshiny, warm, summer’s day… but we ride anyway ’cause riding in the wind bests not riding at all, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
It’s Saturday, February 6th, and it should be 40 degrees colder than it currently is. The first week of February is always the worst of winter in our neck of the woods. I should have ridden on the trainer yesterday morning. Heck, today too for that matter. El Nino is a beautiful thing for Michigan. It always has been. Not necessarily for the skiing industry but for cyclists, 27 degrees (F, -2 C) is just chilly… and awesome… and cause for celebration. And a bike ride.
My wife and I set out exactly at 9 yesterday morning, slowly turning the cranks to our meeting spot less than 1/4 mile from our house. She on her Specialized Alias, the perfect aero hybrid between a road bike and a triathlon bike, and I on my newly spiffy Trek 5200, once the most dominant race bike in existence.
My wife and I both had a top layer Specialized Element 1.0 jacket/jersey… mine red, hers hunter orange. Mike and Chuck appeared on the horizon not even a minute after we pulled up to the meeting spot so we started, heading west, to get our legs and blood moving. They caught us a couple of minutes later. Chuck on his black bike, red jacket and red helmet. Then Mike, dark gray bike, red jacket, red helmet… did I mention that my helmet is red too?
Yep. My wife made a joke about it. We were so close, a non-cyclist could have mistaken us for members of a pro team. Mike even rides a 5200 as his winter bike too.
It was chilly and fairly windy, but the sun was coming up and we were riding our bikes! Outside! In February!
We picked our buddy, Phill up a few miles later, heading dead into the wind but just before we did, we passed our first Township limits sign, a little more than a mile from our house. I almost always get out of the saddle for it but this time, I figured we’d just ride and I let Mike know not to worry… and that’s promptly when Chuck came around me with a smirk on his face.
Mike was beside himself and my wife and I were laughing our butts off.
Chuck said, as he passed Mike, “Hey, if you’re going to make it that easy…” and just let it trail off.
We continued on and Chuck asked me about my seat post collar a short while later:
He said, as we’re cruising down the road, “So when are you going to put a black collar on that seat post?”
I replied honestly, that I’d considered a black collar but I liked the contrast and how it tied in the brushed aluminum of all of the components.
Chuck retorted, “Well, you can be stupid if you want to.”
Ah, the joys and pressures of being an avid enthusiast. Mike and I both cracked up. If I had to guess, my wife rolled her eyes at what was sure to amount to yet another ridiculously expensive purchase we could ill afford… Chuck was joking, of course, and we all had a great chuckle over the shot, but you know what they say about humor and in this case, mockery… There’s a little bit of truth in it. Not that this matters to me though, I’m sticking with my decision if for nothing else, just to bug Chuck.
Rolling into Byron, my wife had taken a great turn up front, maybe two miles into the wind, really strong. She peeled off to head back and that left Mike first, me second and Chuck third, followed by Phill and my wife. I was in the drops making the most of the draft so I could take the City Limits sign and that’s when I noticed Chuck’s wheel out of the corner of my eye… he was moving to box me in. It was early but I went anyway – I really didn’t have much choice, it was either get boxed in or go…
Chuck tried to hang with me but I hammered him.
Now, the tough thing about the Byron City Limits sign is that, not 300 feet after the sign, there’s a pretty decent hill, so if I sprint for the sign I have to keep a little bit of my lead and get to the top with a decent head of steam so I don’t get dropped. Chuck broke off and headed home on the other side of town where we turn around to head back home. On the way we decided to add on seven or eight miles to the end… Phill split off for home first, then my wife, leaving Mike and I to the extra miles.
Our ride was nothing special as far as speed goes, it wasn’t fast at all in fact, just 35-1/2 miles in two hours, but it was definitely enjoyable. Rather than lemons, the weather gave us lemonade. We brought a bucket, and our bikes.
More lemonade on tap for today as well. I should end up with a whopping 170+ miles for the week.