Monday, January 31, 2011

A Winter Stale

Hiver, vous n’ĂȘtes q’un vilain.
(Old French Folk Song)

Talk of your cold: through the parka’s fold
It stabbed like a driven nail.
The Cremation of Sam McGee
Robert W. Service

Goodbye and good riddance to a very cold, dark, dreary month. Hello to another one. The temperature today was minus 18 Celsius and a snowstorm is planned for tomorrow. The climate in my part of the world is unpredictable during the wintertime: we can have mountains of snow or no snow; deep freeze temperatures or clammy thaws. It is never comfortable. This year we are enjoying what some would call a ‘real winter’, with below normal temperatures and lots of snow. I wonder sometimes at the motivation of those who came here first, and stayed.

I have in the past ridden my bike to work during the winter months, but no more. The combination of utter darkness plus car windshields gummed up with salt and sludge makes me feel invisible on the roads. And it is slippery out there. What few bike lanes we have here are not plowed; in fact the snow from the street itself is plowed onto the bike lanes. I used to tempt both gravity and ice, but their collusion with the visually-impaired car drivers creates an axis of evil that defeats me. In short, I am frightened to ride my bicycle in the city in the winter. I’ll remount in March when Daylight Savings resumes and the roads clear, at which time I might have a chance of making it alive through the streets of this sadly bicycle-averse city.

The winter conditions present a challenge to anyone who is trying to train for a cycling event such as the Death Valley Spring Century. Where would I be without Coach Troy Jacobson and his Spinervals DVDs? Think what you like about Coach Troy’s approach, I am a fan. He gets me spinning on my trainer, gets my heart rate up, works my legs and pushes me to do more than I would just pedalling away in front of Jeopardy every night. Spinervals workouts are not a complete solution, but they contribute strongly to my survival as an athlete at this time of year.

For good measure I managed to contract a personal cold as well, which hit me mid-month. It lingers - as they do - with the nagging vestiges of a cough. I felt the best course was to lie low while I was sick and not to irritate my battered lungs with gulps of furnace-dried air. As a result, training has come to a standstill over the past ten days; with the Death Valley event less than a month away, I need to get back on the bike. I want to get back on the bike; I miss it like anything.

But it’ll be the trainer and rollers I’m afraid, until I get away to Furnace Creek.