Whenever I tell people about our bike year, they always ask how long we have done it for.
“Six months” I tell them.
Then they look at me knowingly, and say “talk to me in January.” Which is another way of saying “Riding bikes everywhere you go is easy, in the sweet summertime; but when it is cold outside? You will fail.”
And, honestly, the naysayers are right; we will most likely fail. But we are not going to fail today. Weirdly, I think that is important.
I went running with my buddy Jay this morning. we cruised up past Harriet and Calhoun and then back around, feeling good and chatting about life. Jay ran track and cross country in college and now owns a running shoe store in Rome, GA, where we used to live. A while back he put together a half marathon training plan for me, and I helped him plumb his new house.
“Bill,” Jay said, “hard workouts are fine, but consistency is king. Even if you are not that fast, just keep running” Right on, Jay!
I imagine there is a group of arctic explorers out there, with sled dogs and such, that would not mind the mild Minnesota winters at all. They take cold showers, they swim naked in frozen lakes, they sleep outside in January. All of this is no problem to them because they are extreme arctic explorers.
And then there is us, the Minnesota Brodegards. We are soft and plushy. We like our showers warm. We complain if our toesies are cold. The gap between the Brodegard family and the arctic explorer family is massive.
But we do not have to be that extreme family – all we have to do is keep riding. And winter comes on slowly, five degrees at a time. It starts out as a crisp 40 degree day, with foggy mornings and changing leaves, and fat squirrels chirping at you from the trees. And then a couple of months later it is negative twenty outside, you are riding on slush, and the wind is blowing white snakes of snow down a frozen Mississippi river. But it is a couple of months. Key take-away here – you have time to get ready.
|I have been riding bikes to work for years. In the winter too. It is not that hard. just have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.|
Once, when I was sixteen or so, I was riding bikes home from college in Ohio. On this day it was super snowy, and the snow was still coming down. The road looked like it was covered in dirty mashed potatoes, and I was losing a little bit of traction on my rear tire. I was wearing a full face mask, and my eyelashes were getting heavy with snow.
I pulled up to a stoplight, steaming from my head and shoulders. This lady pulls up beside me in a station wagon, and rolled down her window. “Hey!” she called out, “Do you need a ride somewhere?”
“No” I said, “Thanks though!”
But in my mind I said. “Heck no station-wagon-lady! I am having a blast out here. I am living!
You know that feeling you get, when you are standing on the prow of an old warship, and have just thrown a harpoon into a great white shark, and you have no shirt on, and you have lots of muscles? And then you howl at the moon and throw another harpoon into the shark just for kicks? And then someone kisses you? That is what I was feeling, except I was just pulling up to a stoplight.
That is what is going to happen this winter.
Or, alternatively, we are going to quit, and buy a car.