I want to wear less clothing. I don’t want to ride nude (insert your own saddle sore joke here), but about half of what was required this morning would be a delight. Today, there are bib knickers, baselayer, midlayer, windproof jersey, wind tights, under socks, wool oversocks, shoes and toe warmers. Two pairs of gloves. A skull cap and wool over hat. Oh, and a jacket.

To that end, I want some warmth; 40 degrees (F) will do. Not the 12 I encountered at ride time today. Just enough that my sweat won’t threaten hypothermia at a long traffic light. Let me not seem greedy. I need no langourous Bermudan heat. Just a temperature not expressed in negative degrees centigrade.

I want a lane. It need not be painted. It need only exist, a space between here and there in which to roll. A dry, flat substrate, bereft of ice, sand and salt. An unpocked surface, without the sand traps and water hazards of a PGA golf course.

I want time. Not the half hour I have to dash from kindergarten drop off to early work meeting. I want hours. Multiple. To roll and roll and roll. To purge my weary mind of its weariness. I want to ride up and out of the city, to where the smell of cow shit hangs in the air, to turn around at a coffee shop that also sells shotgun shells.

I want a champion. Not a litany of chemically-enhanced avatars. I want to watch races and forget there are rules. I want to un-know the names of UCI officials and blood-modifying serums. I want to read stories that contain no quotes from lawyers or PR reps.

Wanting is wishing, and wishing is dreaming. My roots, in the hills of mid-Wales and the cities of New England, have taught me not to dream too big. There comes a point where your subconscious sets the bar so high that real world disappointment is the only inevitable result. I want to be a better me, but I have given up on x-ray vision and the ability to fly.

I just want to ride.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. todd k

    Robot: Having been over here in Andover MA the past week, I see exactly what you are mentioning above and can better appreciate the challenges you encounter this time of year. I’m hearing from my wife we are getting snow in the mornings back in PDX, but I also know it is a) no where as cold as it has been here in Boston the past couple of days… particularly with that wind! b) the snow melts back home. Those huge piles you have out here take up a lot of the road out here and make it hard to see around and force you very much into traffic… and most of your side roads appear to have gone from 4 lanes down to two and sometimes less…c) our roads may have a fair amount of chip seal… but beyond that they are generally fine well maintained roads. There are some holes here that would swallow up a large tv! (Though the roads I briefly drove along in NH seemed much less damaged.)

    I haven’t seen a very many folks out there riding, but have seen a few. True hard men and women! Weather forecast suggests a brief respite from the cold.

  2. craig

    Robot: Temps were in the high 30’s this morning when I rolled out for Boston. Still had to deal with the “winter routine” of layering up though I was able to leave a layer or two off. The high 40’s forecasted for quitting time means I can strip down to a base layer, SS jersey and my bib-tights. Sweeeeeeet! Might even try tacking on an extra 40 miles on the way home if the light allows.

    Now if we could only get a weeks work of temps like this so the “road icebergs” can receded a bit.

  3. Robot

    @todd k and craig: The roads have been HORRIBLE. I don’t care about the cold really. I’m a robot. We don’t feel cold. The only upside to potholes that would swallow a large tv is that you can bring your own popcorn and pass parts of the commute watching The Price is Right (Hey, what happened to Bob Barker? He looks fat.).

    This week is going pretty well by comparison to most of January. I rode Monday, ran Tuesday, and have Wednesday and now Thursday rides under my belt. Perhaps all my wanting is bringing both warmer temps and the possibility of base miles.

  4. Sophrosune

    Have you considered another sport in the winter? My friend who still lives in New England and is scheduled to do his second Paris-Brest-Paris race this summer takes up cross-country sking in the winter. Might I suggest bowling. 😉

  5. soul_cramp

    I turned last weekend into a three day weekend as a birthday treat to myself. My Saturday ride was cold, at least for this southern boy’s standards. Three layers up top, two on the bottom plus embro, hat, long finger gloves and windproof shoe covers. It was a cold blustery ride where I dodged more than a few icy/slush patches on the road. Sunday’s ride I was able to get away with arm and knee warmers and a base layer under the jersey but was getting chilly towards the end of the ride as sun was getting low. By my Monday afternoon ride it was warm enough for shorts, short sleeves, a base layer and a little embro (hey why not?). That first ride with bare knees after keeping them covered for so long is always a little strange at first, but it was great. I guess we forget what the sensation of air hitting our bare skin feels like.

    I too would like a champion. And also some PRO RACING. Racing that gets me to jump up off the couch as I’m watching and gives me chills when I read about it. Not some mathematical equation of watts, calories and rate of vertical climb.

    I want a good group ride. One where riders work together and it doesn’t turn into a pissing contest where everybody is worried about their avg speed. One where the experienced riders lead by example and the less experience watch and learn. The stronger riders willing to ease up a little and the weaker willing to dig deeper to keep up.

  6. J

    Last week it was 9 degrees.

    A 58 degree day saw me and a cohort duck out on the first half of the day to ride. Both our bosses saw the wisdom in our choices and wholeheartedly endorsed them.

  7. Touriste-Routier

    Robot, essentially you want a new reality. In order to make it happen you’ll need to practice the following words:

    Long Distance Move, UHaul, Divorce, no custody, no visitation, Bike Bum, unemployed, and “Inter-what”? 😉

    Since these aren’t likely or as fulfilling, try Visualize Summer. Hang in there spring is coming!

  8. Adam

    Robot, my ride at 5:15 a.m. today on Bermuda’s winding roads was a brisk 55 degrees. That’s about as cold as it gets here and about half our team couldn’t pry themselves out of bed with that weather. Come down anytime and give us a look up, http://www.madisoncycling.net
    P.S. it’s Bermudian, not Bermudan

  9. Robot

    @Adam – I will be very certain to look you up. Sorry about the Bermudan/Bermudian mix up. I actually know better, having written about Bermudian footballers in the past. It 55 here today (prayers answered?) and I rode in short sleeves for the first time in about 5 months.

    Visualizing summer.

  10. melburn_rida

    never felt the need to comment before but robot, your wants article almost brought me to tears. i reckon you become an adult the day you stop believing anything anyone says (if it’s not in writing it ain’t worth much etc), but for some reason your article made me think about years ago going out riding after the nightly tour tv highlights (30 minute show after the news on the foreign channel) watching big mig and just being in awe, and then racing (and sometime even beating) those guys in my head around my neighbourhood and working on my victory salutes and silly kid stuff. so i guess my want is to believe again.. in the guys on the pro tour who live the dream, that one day i’ll be genuinely in awe of what i see those guys do without the niggling doubts about how they do it, but mainly that one day i’ll believe again that what a person says (ac is just the latest and i fear by no means the last) actually means something.

  11. Pingback: Friday Group Ride #59 : Red Kite Prayer

  12. Brett

    The only thing we have to worry about in NYC this week is the $270 tickets for running lights. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t enforced in the park during car free hours!

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