Summer is a time for getting fat. Winter is a time for getting fat as well, but in a different way; in Winter we get fat on meals of meat and potatoes covered in sauces made of meat and potatoes. In Summer, on the other hand, our minds get fat: we get nice tans, we tone our muscles, long days see us riding at any hour of the day that suits us. We engorge ourselves on warmth and comfort. Rule #9 is what separates the wheat from the chaff, and we’ve had altogether too little of it. Chaff and wheat are a single, cohesive unit. Not good.
As a Seattleite, I feel I’m entitled to enjoy good weather. We have rain from November to May, and maybe a bit more. Rainy and wet weather is our brand; so we indulge in the bounties that Summer brings us. But entitlement breeds weakness. I would only be entitled to good weather if I somehow paid dues to the Sun and skies themselves for which in return they paid me with sunshine and warmth. I pay no such dues; I am a passenger who is at the mercy of forces I cannot control.
I have the best tan I’ve had an ages – certainly since I’ve lived in Seattle. Tanned guns glistening in the sun motivate a rider in a way that pale guns with goose pimples never can; the way they show off the muscles and veins is something I could stare at for hours.
I’ve been riding mostly in the evenings after work because the long hours of daylight allows for this luxurious schedule. I come home from work, pull on the V-Kit, and spend a few glorious minutes pretending to labor over which bike to ride when in fact I already spent most of the day daydreaming about which bike I would ride. I know full well which bike I’m taking out – I’m just putting on a show for them so they feel included; the difference between a savage and a civilian, after all, has much to do with presentation.
Last Thursday, I knew I was staring down the barrel of an awful day. No chance for an evening ride or even a lunchtime ride – and a disbursement of meeting locations throughout the day meant no chance for commuting, which is the usual silver-bullet in any schedule-constrained cycling-fix. So I turned to the Sunrise Ride – that sacred time when you sacrifice sleep for the sacred gift of exercising during the only window of time that anyone you work with even considers the possibility that you’re awake in the first place.
It was cold when I got up. The first cold morning of the season; a sign of things to come for sure. I walked the dogs and judged what kit I needed to ride. The cold was seeping through my light jacket and into my bones; I reeled at the realization that I was considering arm and knee warmers for the first time in ages. Maybe I can ride after work after all? It will be warm and sunny then. This was the Anti-V speaking, trying to coax me back into the warmth of my bed. I shut it out and set about preparing for the ride.
It wasn’t a Rule #9 ride, not even close. Still, it was chilly in the most invigorating way, I felt my senses in a way I haven’t in many months. The sun cut through the mist and steam of the early morning and cast an eerie blood-orange light on everything it touched. I delighted in the way the sun painted long shadows from the objects around me; I was part of the early morning canvas that I had slept through since June. One of my favorite spots in Seattle, down by Carkeek park, was windstill and picturesque. Puget Sound looked almost like a sheet of glass holding up the Olympic Peninsula and its mountains.
These are the gifts we rediscover each year when we shed the thick comforts of Summer. I can’t say I’m looking forward to colder and wetter times, but I can say I welcome the change and the return to reality.
Vive la Vie Velominatus.