After a week that was filled with doing a lot of stuff that I really didn’t want to do, I was looking forward to the weekend and getting out on my bike. I was, of course, prepared to ride in the snow, ice, and cold temps… it’s winter in Michigan, that shit happens.
Proper clothing, ice-gripping studs, fat tires, and a “Fuck it” (in a good way) attitude help one to make the best out of what winter throws your way, and I have nearly all of those things, yet I still came away from yesterday’s short ride mentally broken.
Maybe it’s because I’m spending so much time attempting to change 46 years of negative thinking, depression, and instilled shame, but as I rode into the steady northerly headwind combined with the bike in motion, made 15˚ feel like -2˚ I felt as if I had no room in my noggin to put a positive spin on what I was doing.
The several inches of snow that covered mid-Michigan for weeks completely melted late in the week when temps got up to 55˚. But Michigan gotta Michigan and that night the temps dropped down to the teens again and brought an inch or so of useless snow.
The woods that I had snowshoed a week ago were now mostly void of snow, the trails that were getting prime for fat biking turned to shit, and the dirt roads turned into long stretches of frozen rutted mud.
The flat roads that lead me north of town were uninspiring and I was putting out stupid efforts to go 10 MPH on a 1% grade. At mile 5 I was on a stretch of pavement which lies between two dirt roads. The sound of studded tires whirling on dry concrete echoed in my head, sweat dribbled down my face behind ski goggles, and my mind was in several places at once and not one of them was a flat paved road near Rosebush, Michigan.
Soon, the words “Fuck” and “It” were muttered from behind a balaclava which was becoming increasingly soaked with perspiration and frozen condensation from my polar fleece muffled heavy breathing. I gave a look over my shoulder to check for traffic, turned the Fatterson around as if I was steering a cruise ship through iceberg filled waters, and headed south towards the Cul De Sac Shack.
With the cold breeze now at my back I started to see my speeds increase and my power output ease. While these two things were not enough to change plans completely, they did help nudge me down a dead-end side road to take a photo of a barn which resulted in the one moment of joy—other than returning home— I experienced over the last 80 minutes.
Later that day I sat watching DVRed soccer, drinking beers, and shuffling through songs on the hi-fi. I found myself happily figuring out ways to sell the Fatterson and the multiple sets of overpriced fat bike tires I own. I found myself questioning why I even own a fat bike anymore; I rarely find myself driving to groomed trails, the roads are mostly ice, and to me, being out in 15˚ temps is about as fun as hitting myself in the face with a frozen hammer.
As I write this nearly 24 hours later I still find some truths in that, but I also realize that there is also a good deal of hyperbole there too. If I’m honest with where I was mentally and physically early yesterday afternoon I would have, could have, should have ridden the trainer, ran on the treadmill, or gone for a hike with my camera.
Sometimes pushing yourself to do something you don’t want to is good for one’s character yet at other times only serves to underline all the reasons that you didn’t want to do that thing in the first place.
Today I am taking a Mental Health Day to regroup and refocus. There will no doubt be more cold rides in my future, there always is, especially with about three more months of winter weather ahead of me. However, today is not that day.