I have a confession to make: I hate winter. Sure, there is plenty of fun to be had during the winter months. Holiday celebrations, ice skating, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing are all viable options. There is also quite a lot of beauty to be seen during this time. The first significant snow fall is always a pristine work of art, and some of the hues and color tones achieved by a winter sky are so impossible to replicate that one cannot help but sit and stare in admiration. Despite whatever positive qualities may exist during a typical winter, there is one problem that I am finding more and more difficult to accept: It’s just too damn cold.
I should add a disclaimer here. I have actually lived in Chicago and its surrounding areas all of my life, and currently reside in the Northwest Illinois town of Rockford. For as close as we are to the state line, and how much it seems every neighbor and acquaintance of mine is a diehard Packers fan, it might as well be Wisconsin. I mention this only to make the point that the cold is not actually anything new to me. As every year ticks by, I simply come to realize more and more how aggravated I am by the winter. Maybe it’s my south-of-the-border heritage, and subsequent instinctual affinity for warm weather, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m 6’0” and 145 pounds soaking wet, but something just does not compute.
The brutal truth of this all smacked me in the face just the other day as I ventured out for my first winter ride of the season. A cloudy 25ºF with a wind-chill reading down to 19º did not exactly seem like the most ideal riding weather, but I had been locked up studying for days, and desperately needed to be outside turning some pedals. It is always a bit disheartening when it takes almost as long to dress for a ride (on account of the ungodly amount of layering necessary in these temps) as the actual duration of the ride itself. An even more enjoyable revelation is when you reach the furthest point of the ride and realize that you have made a poor choice in gloves and can no longer feel something as useful as your fingers. Good times.
I admit, I am being a bit extreme with my hatred of the winter cold. The stillness and peace that can be witnessed during these next few months is pretty spectacular to say the least. I am unaware if there is a scientific explanation for the apparent hush, or whether it is the fact that the world is simply too cold for much activity. Whatever it is, I do appreciate it. This peaceful serenity alone can make some of these ice-cold winter rides utterly enjoyable. I have recently resolved to avoid the trainer, to man up, bundle up, and get out and enjoy this meditative winter solace as much as possible this season.
In all honesty, this winter has not been very bad at all. So far our local temperatures have averaged somewhere in the high 30’s/low 40’s for the month of December. What significance does this have to anyone outside my own personal pity party? you may ask. Well, with the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships pretty much in my back yard in just a few days time, it seems that much of the grumbling the cycling community has heard for the past 12 months about Madison, Wisconsin being a moronically frigid venue for such a big event may have been a bit premature. The current forecast does not project anything like some of the previously “epic” conditions witnessed in such venues as Kansas City and Providence. However, as the rule goes, now that I have said it, I’m sure that I have all but guaranteed the coldest Nats that this country has seen in years. Enjoy.
(Gotta love Rockford!)