George R.R. Martin
Even a snowman would admit that this winter has been abominable; it is all the more frustrating for the fact that we apparently set so few all-time records. There have been days in the past that were colder, snow that was higher, wind chill that was chillier. So we don’t even have the distinction of having survived the coldest, snowiest winter since they began keeping records; just one of them.Statistics aside, though, no one will dispute that for pure orneriness, the past three months have taken the prize. My friend Pam from the U.S., normally an upbeat, no-nonsense type, has lost all patience, and is raving about nightmares with fictitious drunken uncles. If it’s too much for her, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Closer to home, people in Toronto are as sick and tired of this winter as they are of our mayor, and that’s saying something.In the spirit of making snow cones when life hands you a blizzard, I have made friends of my indoor equipment this year. I have fallen half in love with my trainer and treadmill, if you want to know.
I spend most days of the week going nowhere on my bicycle trainer. Coach Troy Jacobson leads me though my sessions with his Spinervals videos, of which I own more than a dozen. Each one features an opening legal disclaimer with a grammatical error so appalling that it always gets my blood flowing enough to start turning the pedals, no matter how lazy I feel. It’s not Death Valley or Ironman, but I am on a bicycle and I am pedaling. And smugly grammatical.
On my treadmill I have found that I can run 10K in the time it takes to play a recorded episode of Mayday, a TV series that re-enacts plane crashes. Mayday is not a show in which the dialogue is subtle (“we’re going down!!!”) so I can easily hear and understand what they’re saying (and screaming) above the sound of my feet hitting the rubber. To help me forget about the wind chill outside and pretend I am running along the beach in Laguna Phuket, there is a heating vent just above the treadmill that somehow cannot be turned off.Indoor training is a necessity in a northern climate, so the best thing to do is to get the most value from the time you spend on the equipment. It’s possible to perform a bike workout with an efficiency that isn’t possible when you are outside observing stoplights, swerving around potholes, and dodging the gloating victors in my city’s War on the Car (we cyclists are their spoils). And of course the treadmill surface is much kinder to my aging feet than the streets are. I have formed a comfortable friendship with the equipment in my little basement gym.
|Is that the sun?|
Too comfortable. It is time to get out and breathe some air that is not filtered through the dust bunnies in our heating ducts. Time that my efforts moved me forward across the earth. And I will do all that, as soon as I can get down the front walk without slipping and falling into a snowbank.
Environment Canada forecasts above freezing temperatures for most of the coming week. The best thing about the dying of this cruel winter is that anything spring can throw at us will be welcomed like a wealthy relative to a family funeral. Look for cyclists slithering through the sleet of April and runners skating happily along the trails as soon as the current patina of rock hard ice has softened.
Bring it on. We’ll be there.