Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter: a blessing and a curse…..

Well, it’s officially winter and the rains (and snows) have come. (finally)
When I was younger and skied a lot I used to love winter and fall was just an interruption between hanging out in the summer and skiing in the winter.

The past couple of years though, since I’ve begun biking, fall is one of my favorite times of the year.
I ride a lot in the summer and the long days and warm weather are great for that. I especially like riding in the early morning.
In the fall though, the weather is just perfect for riding. It’s never blisteringly hot, the day starts out cool and usually warms up nicely, the trails are usually not as crowded and scenery and the trees with their leaves mostly gone can be very surreal looking.

Winter on the other hand is a hard time of year to be a cyclist. It’s cold, it gets dark early, and it’s either currently raining, has just rained or is about to rain. Add to this the fact, that I’m basically a wuss and you come up with an equation that leads to me not riding much.
The interesting thing is that I really rely on my riding to help mellow out my attitude and even out my moods. If I’m having a rough day, a ride helps me leave it on the trail. If I’m depressed or stressed about anything, there’s nothing that helps smooth out the bumps like a little exercise induced suffering.
With the holidays here, the stress level goes way up, but with the rain, the ability to go out, get on the bike and blow off some steam diminishes drastically. It’s no wonder I’m so cranky this time of year…..(not to mention the increase in my beer consumption)

The upside is that if it’s raining here in the bay area, chances are it’s snowing in the mountains and while I don’t’ get up to ski as often as I used to when I was a kid, I still love it.
It’s actually very similar to mountain biking…
There’s a certain level of fitness required in order to really enjoy it
There’s a certain and very controllable level of risk involved - If you want to hang it all out there and let it rip you can. If you want to take it easy and just glide down the easy stuff you can do that as well.
The more skill you have the easier it is
The ability to pick your line can be critical (esp on a rigid ss)
The penalty for exceeding your abilities can be swift and painful

So, the rain here in the bay area sucks. Many trails are washed out and not ride-able, it’s cold and damp even when it’s not raining and it’s easier to talk myself into opening a beer by the fire than it is to go out and get on my bike... BUT, I will get a few ski days in and hopefully those will make up for the lack of riding.

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