I laughed out loud, and it was one of those moments when I was alone, walking back from dropping the kids at school, and I hoped that none of my neighbors had seen me, walking along by myself, laughing like an idiot. I had been thinking about my “season,” i.e. that time of the year where I ride without the sorts of interruptions that keep me off the bike for weeks at a time, things like two feet of snow dropping in a single evening and shrinking all the road ways to high-speed hallways for impatient motorists.
When, I wondered to myself, would my season start?
And really, even thinking of what I do as having a season made me laugh out loud. I mean, who am I? I don’t race, so I don’t train except in that masochistic way that yields some level of spirit-illuminating suffering. I ride hill repeats occasionally, but only the way a penitent wears a hair shirt, to know better what a clean soul feels like.
It was just two weeks ago, as I was riding home in falling snow, that I even realized what’s good about the off-season, that yearly hiatus that comes unbidden in either December or January or February, or whenever the capriciousness of nature turns the endeavor of riding into a survival exercise. I was cursing the snow and thinking of Padraig wheeling along in the Southern California sun and thinking some not-altogether charitable thoughts, when suddenly I realized that being forced off the bike periodically is a good thing.
It keeps me from exacerbating repetitive use injuries to my knees. It allows my body to recover in myriad ways, some of which I’m sure I don’t even realize, and it forces me to pursue other activities that I enjoy but often eschew in favor of riding.
Despite our recent meteorological travails, some friends are riding 40 miles tomorrow in honor of someone’s 40th birthday. Given my current condition, and the current conditions, 40 miles would be a good ride, but family duties have me standing in a hockey instead, watching my boys excel at a sport I don’t even really understand.
I was thinking about missing that ride when I started laughing to myself like an idiot. “When,” I thought, “does my season get to start? And what even does it look like?”
This week’s Group Ride asks when YOUR season starts. Do you even think of your riding as having seasons? And what do those season’s consist of? Club rides? Races? Grand fondos? Or just a long series of solo rides, away from family and responsibilities and the cold, darkness of hockey rinks?
Image: Matt O’Keefe