Last night I had a nightmare. Maybe it was the undigested pizza seeking its revenge. Or, it could have been because my wife stole all the blankets, leaving me shivering in a shallow sleep, which is prime for dream-making.
So anyway, I was commuting home by bike. My commute was quite dark, as the quarter moon was late in rising. It was also very chilly and I wasn't fully prepared for the cold. I lacked adequate protection for my head and face. I had a very thin skullcap under my helmet and had nothing for my face. My 8 3/8" blockhead was uncomfortable, but manageable, for the five mile commute home.
While my headlight flickered on the patchy street, puffs of steam belched up from my breath fogged my glasses. Perhaps due to limited vision, I didn't see the old man in coveralls until he suddenly appeared from behind a Ford 150's shadow.
"You aught'n slow down," he snarled at me.
The patchy snow turned into a nasty sheet of ice in an instant. I heeded the old man's warning, clipped out with one foot and feathered the rear brake. It was dicey. But when I came safely to a stop, I dismounted and walked the bike through the ice field. After remounting, I rode home without incident.
Oh yeah, what's this about? Sorry! I digress. I was supposed to tell you about the nightmare I had the other night, not my commute home from work. I must have been thinking about my commute as I fell asleep. Shortly afterward is when I had the nightmare.
In my nightmare, I dreamed that I was sitting on a stationary bike in a gym. Awful, no? Well hang onto your foam-rubber stationary bike handlebars, because it gets worse. It was about 85F and humid in there. I was staring at a paint chip missing from the burnt umber colored wall. I was staring at the paint chip in a feeble attempt at quelling my raging mind, which teetered atop an abyss of boredom and insanity. While I attempted to focus my mind, I sat and spun on a dated stationary bike that looked like it just came off the set of Total Recall (1990, not 2012). On my left is a woman that looks like Jane Fonda, complete with her trademark neon knee warmers. She's chewing bubble gum, and when not blowing obnoxious bubbles, it sounds like she's eating a live fish. On my right is a dude that looks like he just walked off the WWF (wrestling, not wildlife) wearing purple and black zubaz pants and a tanktop that would make Sammy Hagar weep. He's also humming off-key to 90s hairband rock, blaring from earbuds connected to a Sony Walkman. Let's recap my nightmare: the heat, the humidity; GI Jane stripping her teeth over that fish and the Bret Michaels-wannabe humming Whitesnake's Here I Go Again. All this, while I'm sitting on a stationary bike. AHHHHHH! I couldn't take it! It was way too much for my brain to focus on that stupid paint chip. I went into overload and screamed aloud, waking up my wife in the process.
As you can see, I hate riding a stationary bike. Trainers, too for that matter. I'll ride them when its absolutely necessary. Last winter, I rode a lot, but only once during a spin class, once on a trainer and twice on rollers. I'm saying that not to brag, like I'm some tough guy for riding outside in the winter or something. I'm sharing so you know how much I'd rather be outside than inside. And, if that resounds in you, that it's something you'd like to try too, then what's keeping you from joining in? Here's my encouragement to you: get out there and see for yourself what it's like.
First of all I can tell you what winter riding is not. No, it's not this:
But with a little preparation, it could be this:
Obviously, it takes a certain level of commitment to assemble the proper clothing and gear to do it right. But rather than hash it out here, why not take your next coffee break and read up on it yourself? There are plenty of good sites out there. One site I came upon recently is Icebike.org. It's probably as good a starting point as any.
I ride throughout the winter simply because its a lot of fun.
And it certainly beats spinning next to a guy in a pair of Zubaz.