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February PDF Print E-mail

February is a non descript month for those of us in the bike business.  While a large portion of our business depends on seasonal weather, and economic conditions alike, we still need to continue to profit regardless of time of year.  Hitting January 1st is always exciting, and looked upon with great anticipation rather than trepidationResolutions regarding diet and fitness are promised, friendships vowed to be renewed and strengthened, and more time spent with the family.  All worthy intentions, but once January begins it's cold, slow paced crawl toward February, and rides become more and more forced, and premeditated, we focus more on tolerating February than embracing it...Let's call it the "Red headed step child" of the calender year.  All the month has to offer is Valentine's day, and that just puts undue pressure on all of us along with looking for a pair of pants that still fit!

On a 10 degree, 14 mile, Sunday morning ride at Stewart, I found myself during the ride questioning both sanity and intent.  Was I trying to stay fit, or was I trying to prove something to myself and others that I was a devout cyclist? I didn't have an honest answer, and quite frankly after 10 minutes on the trails didn't care.  My main concern was maintaining enough blood flow in my fingers to be able to shift, and two hours later, be able to hold a cold bottle of Stone Pale Ale without dropping it on the cloth seat of my truck!  I managed both quite well, and one probably too choose whichever satifies your priority.

If you've never ridden in winter, well frankly, you're missing out on a unique experience.  The lead up to riding is probably just as bad, if not worse than the actual ride itself.  Getting dressed properly is the ordeal.  You must choose your gear wisely knowing full well if you have too much clothing, (technical wear if you will), or too little, it could mean the difference between enjoying the experience, or screaming at the top of your lungs, "This sport is stoopid, and I'm not gonna do it anymore!"

I find I remind myself of Ralphie's little brother in "Christmas Story", when his mom bundles him up, and he has so much on he can't move.  At this point, the general feeling is most of us would rather be too warm, than too cold.  You can always remove the clothing, but if you don't have it, you can't wear it.  Some words of wisdom as most of the guys I ride with don't even want to carry a spare tube, or an inflation device, or even a life saving multi tool in case of a break down.  You can rest assured however, that back at the parking lot are ample amounts of recovery drinks frowned upon by most nutritionists, but championed by hops growers worldwide!

Trainer workouts are adequate, but like one of the guys said to me, and I hope he wasn't speaking from experience, "the trainer is kinda like making out with your get the experience, but no one gives you credit for it!"  No wonder I look over my shoulder at my Cyclops fluid trainer and shake my head in denial...I have higher standards than that!

Riding in fresh powder is a wonderful experience.  I always get a kick out of the sound the tires make in the snow...kind of like a hushed, rhymic, squeaking noise.  It has a tendency to lull you into a sort of hypnotic state that keeps your mind off the cold.  The spell is immediately broken however when you turn to another rider to share your joy at the moment, and are greeted with a two inch stream of snot extending from cyclist nose all the way to cyclist chin!  And said chin smiling unknowingly due to the fact that exposed skin has been rendered useless due to ambient temperature! Thus was born the "trail oyster!"

The best part of all, is the after ride shower...few feelings in life remind us of our mortality like ice cold extremities being reborn under hot water, giving you an idea what it feels like to be stung by a Man of War jelly fish off the Great Barrier Reef.  Or when you dry yourself off and look in the mirror at your butt cheeks resembling that four pound Maine lobster fresh out of the pot...only chafed, and covered with Vaseline!  Vivid reminders of why winter riding is so rewarding.

My father used to tell me, "The road to the poor house is paved with good intentions", and while my feelings are "Screw you February", my intentions are to stay fit and prosper.  I guess I can focus as long as I have my friendly support crew willing to suffer alongside me. If they can tolerate both me and the weather, I'm sure I can get through Gobbler's knob, the Saints winning the Super Bowl, and treating my wife to some greenhouse flowers.  Yes, along with slush, February strives to provide the male populace with a contrived holiday intent on making us wallow in guilt and self pity for even trying to remember that Valentine's day falls on the 15th, or is it 16th...right before Saint Patrick's Day!

"Yours in denial"  George