Another round of winter weather is headed straight for the metro area, and yet - this time - I'm not discouraged. I spent this morning over strong coffee, looking out the back window at the clear roads and the whiteish haze of salt treatment left over from the last round of wintry weather, and grinned. It will get sloppy again, but this time it won't be as bad. This is when winter really gets fun -- the common motorist looks upon the winter cyclist as a nut, a crazed fool with no other alternatives for transportation - when in reality the roads underneath are just as traction-providing as they are in spring-time. This is gonna be a good week to get back into the swing of things. The fears of getting cold, getting wet, loathing of discomfort, are fading - and as I prepared my laundry for the coming week I also took the time to dust off the thick gloves, the rain pants, the tights, the thicker wool socks and the long un-used winter headcovers and wool caps. I haven't ridden to work for months now, really. Aside from brief rides and the VERY fun New Year's Day ride, I have barely been on the bicycle. I ache for a ride - and I desperately want to break the "car" habit.
The sun is rising again on a passion that has long been buried under the ashes of personal tragedy and borderline depression. It's time to stoke these fires once again, brush away the ashes of despair and toss a few fresh hardwoods on these waning embers.
I see myself, the winter warrior once more suiting up for the challenge at hand. It's not un-usual to mentally transcend my own suburban existance and fancy myself at Vostok, suiting up to check the telemetry settings on a perimeter wind-speed sensor. Perhaps a Canadian Mounted, pulling on heavy boots and lining his pockets with provisions for a midnight patrol along the Trans-Canada #1 in deep January. Not just some cube-jockey on his way to work to create another meaningless spreasheet, but something harder, more romantic. A Norweigan military policeman, looking out over the harsh Arctic waters, monitoring Russian patrol boat activity, as the winter sun barely peeks its head over the horizon behind me - perhaps putting thumb to pipe tobacco to pass the hours, waiting for my captain to return with a pot of hot tea. Certainly not "just" in Kansas, riding along a safe two-lane road. Perhaps to the motorists around me my mission is daring enough; to hold one's head defiant and walk past the car with its promise of speedy transport without icy winds and exposure, with the promise of heat and entertainment and a soft chair - to walk past all that without a moment's hesitation, to put instead metal spikes into icy slush, to play among the steel beasts at intersections and precariously defy convention, to travel as the harder peoples of only 100 years ago would have. Perhaps fantasy isn't neccessary. Perhaps abject refusal to subscribe to the notion that the human race has become soft by taking up the handlebars and putting my chin to my chest in a frigid headwind, facial hair gathering ice along the way, is enough. A noble choice, or a foolish one - it is mine to shoulder, and my own story to create. Whether making my way across the tundra with medicine for my family, or simply making my way to another day at work with a laptop - however I choose to describe it, it's DAMN good to throw my leg over the top tube again, and set off into the challenge. If it was easy, everyone would do it - and because not everyone does I can hold my head strong with pride in my own personal demonstration that this nation's men have NOT gotten soft. There are still some of us that would have it the hard way. Regardless of the freedoms we have earned and the luxuries we can afford, we choose to suffer, to remind ourselves what life is about.
Bring on the snow - I will not waver.