We’re not really supposed to have favorites, but everyone does. Just ask your parents. So while I’m not supposed to have a favorite, I do, and its Rule #9.
Bad weather immediately separates the wheat from the chaff, and so the weekend warriors stay indoors and leave the roads to the devout. I talk most often about riding in the rain, with the drops of water dripping from my cap acting as my personal metronome as I carve a path through the chaos towards a happier self. But sunny days in the cold can provide their own glorious solitude.
On Keepers Tour 2013, we had unseasonably cold weather, and some of the best rides we had were early morning spins before heading off to the races. With the sun hanging low over the horizon, we rode through our frozen breath, together in close formation yet each of us retreating inward as we steeled ourselves against the cold. These were beautiful, peaceful rides.
This winter in Seattle has been relatively dry, but also cold. On the weekends, the country roads are nearly deserted and all that is left is the silent, still air and the burning of cold air as it enters my lungs. On a recent solo ride on Whidbey Island, I spun down the same roads which only a few months earlier I had ridden with friends on the annual Whidbey Island Cogal. The island seems a full place then, now it looked like an entirely different place – empty and beautiful.
There is something about the way the bike handles in the cold. The tires are firmer, the rubber less supple. The connection between bicycle and road seems simultaneously harsher and more fragile than in the warm. The muscles in my arms and hands are also more twitchy in the cold. Not twitchy like I can suddenly sprint; twitchy like I have difficulty controlling what they are doing – where normally I pride myself on holding a clean line, in the cold a small bump in the road might trigger a spasm that sends the bike into a wobble. Its an exciting way to ride.
Quiet roads, a still harbor, an early morning sunrise; these are the gifts reserved for those who ventured out when others stay in. These are the gifts of Rule #9.
Vive la Vie Velominatus.