Winter reveals her charms reluctantly, preferring a stone-cold and stone-hard demeanor. She gives you a glimpse of comforting solar radiation—strong even around the solstice—and then pulls it back behind the glum neutrality of cold front clouds. A day or two of thaw, and then back into the deep freeze. I was thinking on my Saturday ride that the January landscape exemplifies what “earth tones” means: various shades of mud, from charcoal through light beige, and permeating not just the earth but the tree bark, the dead grasses, the plumage of Juncos and the fur of squirrels. Maybe I should switch back to my red sunglass lenses from my winter gray ones just to introduce a little color into the scene.
Worse is when the sky’s gray brings cold rain or ice. If there’s anything more uncomfortable than riding on a cloudy, cold day, it’s not being able to ride on a cloudy, cold, rainy day, like Sunday. It’s only a minor compensation that I can instead ride the mag trainer while watching the Tour riders sweating up some Alpine pass with snow on the high peaks beyond. The warm air is palpable, and my much less intense suffering almost ennobled, by the virtual presence of these great cyclists laying it all on the line. It’s especially real for me when they climb Mont Ventoux, which we did by car about three years ago. Beautiful, barren, capriciously hot or cold, and bloody steep. When I see the DVD, I am riding in the lead group right along with Lance, Ullrich, Beloki, and the rest. Esperance! Vitesse!
When it is raining, I confess that part of me frequently has an adult reaction equivalent to that of a kid waking up to a snowstorm: “great, no workout today!” What is this enemy within, undermining motivation? Then I remember that I’ll be riding inside, which is even more likely to be unmotivating than a cold day’s ride. Once I do it I am always glad, but there’s something enticing in the scenario of being curled up with a cup of coffee and a good book, something mellow on the iPod shuffle, while it’s freezing or raining out there. But this treat can come after the workout. Esperance! Vitesse!