The Best Reason there is to Maintain One’s Fitness through the Winter, or Alternately, I’m not Freaking Nuts for Riding a Trainer Six Days a Week… Really!
February, in Michigan, sucks. February is the grayest, snowiest, coldest month of them all.
This year we actually had a reasonable day, without a lot of snow already on the ground to melt, and it was taken full advantage of.
My wife and I rode with Phill and Brad for 18 on the dirt roads at 9. It was enjoyable, serene and fun. The dirt roads were dry so we weren’t contending with muck and the temperature, at a balmy 36 degrees (2C), doesn’t get any better for a February. Sadly, I was hoping for 22-24 but Phill got a flat and then another flat in his only spare tube so he had to stop every three miles to pump his tire up. We just took it home.
This is post doesn’t end there though because 18 miles is less than half the story….
My buddy Mike had to miss out on the morning festivities because he was babysitting for his daughter. When I walked in the door, I dialed him up to find he hadn’t left for his ride yet. We made plans to take the road bikes out, in a mere 30 minutes… In February! I believe this could have been my first February road bike ride ever. Definitely my first “above freezing”, non-sucky road bike ride in February.
My friends, a two-a-day workout in February is entirely un-freakin’-necessary. However, when you love cycling and good times in February are few and far between, going for a ride on the road bike is on par with a puppy hugging a kitten whilst your wife brings you a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. It’s pretty freaking good.
I chose the Trek because the roads were a tad wet and I’m just not willing to take the good bike out yet.
I rode to the end of my road and waited a few minutes for Mike. As I’ve done hundreds of times before, when he was a few hundred meters out I started down the road keeping an easy 15 mph pace so he could catch up. As he closed the gap I picked up the pace. 17 mph, 18… 19 and 20. 21 mph and I kept it there for a couple of miles till Mike came around me and took it down to 17-18. This is when I realized I was being a bit of a dope. Base miles, no need to put the hammer down.
Once we hit the quiet back roads Mike pulled up along side me and we continued side by side talking and laughing like it was summertime.
It was glorious, really. The sun was starting to peek through the clouds and the temperature had risen above 40! There was no contesting City Limits signs, no punishing pace and little need to get into the drops (except for the three miles we spent directly into the wind). Just me and my buddy, cheating winter for 22-1/2 miles. I ended up with just over 40 miles on the day.
There once was a time I’d take the winter off, back when I was still running. The year before I switched to cycling exclusively I started riding a trainer through the winter. I often complain about the trainer by calling it soul-crushingly boring (in fact, I’ve written that enough that my phone anticipated the term, I only had to type in “soul”) but I’ll take a little boring when I can have a day like yesterday without having to work up to it.
Winter makes its return today so it’ll be back on the trainer for an hour or so but that’s just fine with me. Next weekend’s weather is supposed to be even better.
Good times are here again, and because I push on the trainer through the winter, I’m ready for them.