On Winter Base Miles

What is it about putting in long miles on icy cold winter days that makes them so satisfying? Is it the unhurried pace? Knowing that you are doing something even most other cyclists would look at you a bit crookedly for?

Fenders. A kind gesture not only for you but also for your buddies.

Perhaps it's that slight hint of adventure – spending an extra half hour putting on the fenders and layering on more clothing, chasing down a lost neck gator – it makes you feel just a little like a two-wheeled Amundsen heading out into a frosty wilderness.

And it's worlds better than the automaton life on the indoor trainer. I don't care what movie you might have cued up on your TV or computer.

Icy? Wet? Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

Maybe it's the increased dangers one finds out on a winter ride. The side of the road, that 2-3 feet of relatively safe haven in warmer weather, vanishes under ice, snow and slush, forcing you further to the center of the lane. Plows have been out creating new pot holes for the road crews to fill later in the summer but right now they serve to swallow your wheel. Numb fingers don't work the way they are supposed to and add to the distraction your wind burned face is already causing.

Good turnout, considering the weather.

Certainly, the hardships are much easier to endure when they are shared among the like-minded. You get kudos just for showing up, even if you later may complain a little about your cold feet or the grinding sound your derailleur starts making late in the ride. You feel a little less crazy when joined by others about as unhinged as you are.

The bike was even dirtier.

And of course, the rewards you get when you finish a winter ride are multiple: re-entry to the indoor world of warmth, comfort, hot food and drink, the right to lord it over the snuggie-squad, a long shower or bath.

I think for me, a good, long winter ride refreshes the knowledge that the world is still so much bigger than the people who coop themselves up until springtime. I'm reminded that I can get out there and take command of it in a certain way even now, if for just a little while.

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