Winter Solstice is passed. So, theoretically, the days are getting longer. There’s more sunlight each day, which — in my head anyway — means that it won’t be long ’til I’m doing early morning rides. And late afternoon rides. And glorious, glorious long weekend rides.
And, theoretically, it won’t be long ’til “suiting up” consists of bibshorts, socks, and a jersey.
Theoretically. But what my head thinks and what my heart knows are two different things.
In my heart, this winter feels like it is going on forever. And I am starting to show some very serious symptoms of Winter Bike Absence Disorder (Winter BAD).
Denial and Substitution
The first — and perhaps most alarming — symptom of Winter BAD is acting like you don’t have it at all. In my case, this has been most painfully evident in some alarming new behavior I have begun to exhibit.
“I don’t feel as cold when I run as when I ride during the winter,” I tell myself. “And I can’t ride my mountain bike on the trails close to where I live and work anyway.”
“Besides, when the shoulder of the road isn’t covered with ice, it’s covered with sand, salt and debris. That’s not good for riding,” I continue to persuade myself.
“And with running, I get being out in the cold over with a lot more quickly. An hour or two and I am done,” I say, now nearly at the point of believing what I am telling myself.
“Besides, it’s good to get off the bike for a season, so I don’t burn out,” I conclude. “And running will improve my bone density, so they don’t spontaneously crumble into powder, the way Kenny’s do,” I conclude again, but for real this time.
You know what denial by substitution like this is? It’s a cry for help, that’s what it is. How come nobody’s staged an intervention, that’s what I’d like to know.
Jealousy and Self-Justification
Every so often, in spite of the fact that it’s brutally, evil-ly cold out there, I see someone on a road bike. Bundled up with so many layers that they have a hard time bending their legs enough to turn the cranks.
And then I have a bizarre bi-fold reaction: jealousy of that person for getting on his bike and riding, regardless of the conditions. This is liberally mixed with self-justification: “Look how cold and miserable that guy looks. Why get on a bike when you know for sure you’re going to suffer and hate the whole ride, thinking — from the moment you get on the bike — about when you can get off the bike?”
You know what really makes me miss Summer, though? Photos. A couple days ago, I was just browsing through some pictures I took last Summer and Fall, and I came across this:
Any local will instantly recognize this as Corner Canyon, an incredible singletrack network I can get to riding right from my house.
During the Summertime, anyway.
So I kept looking, and came across this:
That’s Pole Line Pass, and there’s mile upon mile of singletrack just like it. You can ride for hours and hours.
During the Summer, anyway.
Now completely dejected, I went over to pics from my SingleFly photoshoot, taken at the top of Frank:
You know what I miss? I miss the color green.
Feeling all melancholy, I walked out to my garage and patted my bikes. “Don’t worry,” I cooed. “We’ll get through this. Spring’s not that far away.”
I wonder if they heard the desperation in my voice.
Involuntary Shudders, Gag Reflex
But don’t worry, I’m still getting on a bike. It’s just that it’s on the rollers.
No, that’s not true. I just totally lied. I haven’t been on the rollers in more than a week. You see, I’ve developed a new symptom: a Pavlovian gag reflex, combined with general heebie-jeebies, whenever I see rollers.
I suit up, planning to do some roller intervals to keep my power high. Then I walk up to the rollers, calm as you please.
Which is when I start to shudder. And taste bile in the back of my throat. Instinctively, I know that if I don’t look away and get into a different room, pronto, I am going to have a largish mess to clean up.
I think this is a cumulative symptom, based on the crazy amount of time I spent on the rollers last winter. Now that I think of it, it seems probable that for any given human, there is a maximum amount of time that human can spend on rollers in a lifetime without doing serious permanent psychic damage.
If this is true (and since you are reading it on the Internet, it must be true), I believe I am either nearing or have reached that threshold.
I cannot believe that I am the only person suffering from Winter BAD. And frankly, I am concerned that as winter progresses, so shall my symptoms. What do I have to look forward to next? Snowshoeing? Simulated sun in tanning salons? Still more running?
I’m scared. So very, very scared.