Early on Monday afternoon I found myself with a rare break in my eternal "To Do" list, and a sideways glance at my weather station was rewarded with the knowledge that the great outdoors was sitting at a seemingly balmy -10 degrees Celsius.
I thought about my Surly Pugsley, and how it was filthy and in desperate need of a tune up. I thought about how long it's been since I've actually gone for a ride in the "cold", and how I wasn't even 100% on what to wear (my knowledge of winter layering seems to have been replaced with the ability to estimate how many diapers and bottles of milk I need to pack for an afternoon out). Then I thought about how it seemed like I was stalling and making mental excuses.......
Okay, here we go. Current ghetto socks? Ya, they're likely fine. Old cycling liners, insulated tights (complete with holes), and an old pair of hiking pants? Ya, that should work. Top layer........Hmmmm..........old merino wool long sleeve shirt (again, c/w holes), thin zip-up synthetic mid-layer designed for hiking, and a fleece hoodie. Seems legit. Feet get a pair of Gen1 45NRTH Wolvhammers, face gets a 45NRTH Lung Cookie, and hands slip into 45NRTH Sturmfist 5's. Looks like I'm ready.
Toss a leg over the trusty Pug, turn Eastward, and start pedaling. The cold is pretty biting on my lungs, so I pull up the face-guard over my nose. Much better. 5 minutes of snowy gravel later, and I'm starting to warm up nicely. The sun is out, and the wind isn't too bad, so the kilometers start to roll by. The gravel soon turns to untracked snow and I soon realize I've worn too many layers. I pause briefly to unzip the air vents on my hoodie and pants, and have a quick drink of water. Oh right..... the nozzle on the bottle is frozen solid.
Back on the bike.....the resistance of smooth soft powder and prairie wind blown snow drifts reminds my legs with warming pain that it's been a while since I've been in the saddle. It's funny how life can keep you off the bike sometimes.....hours turn to days......days turn to weeks, and suddenly it's almost an embarrassing long amount of time since your last ride. It just happens. It doesn't seem like a big deal. And maybe it really isn't. But then you ride again.....you get back on......and thru all the cold and the pain and the suffering, you find yourself grinning like an idiot, and unable to justify why you've been gone so long. And so I apologize for my negligence to my trusty fatty, as we continue to grind along in silence next to 10km+ of fresh coyote tracks.
Eventually my bike would lead me back home. Back to warmth. Back to family. Back to reality. And back to frosty congratulatory beverages and hot food. And with sore legs and residual smiles, I would sit back and spend the rest of my day starting the daydream-esque countdown to my next ride. Perhaps it will be tomorrow, perhaps it will be next week, perhaps it will be next month. And honestly, it doesn't matter.....as long as there is a next ride.