Winter Shutdown


I am forty-three years old. That means that I’m getting older, as well as saggier, fatter and harrier in all the wrong places. It also means that I have endured forty-three winters. I’m not sure how many wet, slush filled shoes, slips on ice, scraped car windows, shoveled driveways and bouts of uncontrollable cuss-filled shivering that adds up to, but I’m sure it’s a lot.

When I was young, fat and lazy, winter time was a wonderful excuse to be even fatter and lazier than usual. But, as I lost weight and became more active and involved in mountain bike racing and cycling, winter became a time to focus on the coming season; plan race schedules, map out some training, hit the gym and spend many a night after work holed up in the basement riding to nowhere on the stationary trainer. No, I wasn’t a great (or even a good) racer but it did help me get through the winter and focus on the better warmer times to come in the spring and summer.

Even in those years of winter “training” (as per usual I am very hesitant to use that word when referring to myself), I would reach a point where I would sort of max out on winter and shutdown mentally (that never takes all that much) and physically. As you can imagine, now that I am older, less interested in racing my bike and doing anything that remotely resembles a “training”  plan (lest I be expected to actually race), the winter shutdown can come on even quicker.

Over recent winters I have found ways to cope with the ice snow and cold: gym memberships, many cases of beer, and nights under blankets snuggling with Wifey (or more recently Jake The Dog) have helped divert my attention away from the misery of winter’s long hours of darkness, cold and snow. Most recently my fat forays on top the Pugsley (last year) and the Farley this year have helped immensely in staving off my winter shutdown mode, but after a while the idea of spending ten minutes layering up in three layers of winter cycling clothing or more just to ride can become annoying. I can only take so much of stuffing my muffin top into increasingly smaller riding gear before the words “f*ck it” come out of my mouth. That doesn’t mean I don’t find riding in the snow challenging, fun and a nice change of pace, it just means that in the winter I sometimes often I just sort of shutdown. This past weekend was one of those times.


My ride with my friend Napper last Thursday was super fun and it was great to be out in the sun riding my bike, even if it was only 1˚. Then Friday came, I drug myself out of bed, got B-Man breakfast, made his lunch and got him off to school. My hope was to drink more coffee, do some work and get out to ride. Eventually that plan changed to drink more coffee and ride the trainer. Then that plan changed to drink more coffee, get a shower, make lunch, and say to hell with doing anything fitness related.

Saturday I was up early to watch Spurs v Arsenal derby on TV with the plan of going for a ride afterwards. That then changed to riding the trainer, then to running on the treadmill and finally to watching even more football, getting a shower, eating lunch and going beer shopping.

Sunday was nearly a carbon copy of Friday and Saturday with a twist of walking across the street to watch B-Man’s basketball game and take some pics. As I walked down the sidewalk my foot shot out from under me and I found myself in a rather precarious position, resembling a first basement stretching out for an oncoming throw. Once properly back on my feet I commenced tiptoeing down the sidewalk, muttering obscenities under my breath, most of which was directed towards the weather creating she-bitch known as Mother Nature and her cold, prickish friend Jack Frost.


As I sat on the hard bleachers of the gym snapping photos of B, I realized that it’s already begun, I am frozen balls deep into my annual winter shutdown. Things like going to bed well before 8 PM, laying on the couch watching football all morning, drinking copious amounts of beer and coffee, eating plates of cheesy, white trash Mexican comfort food and seeking out a pair of ample bosoms (or smelly dog) to snuggle with under blankets is what’s at the forefront of my mind right now. It happens every year, it’s nothing serious, it’s just my brain’s way of telling me that I am ready for spring (or about to have my 86th nervous breakdown). I’m pretty certain that I am not the only person out there who experiences this. I also know that it usually doesn’t last all that long. Soon enough I’ll find myself climbing back on the trainer, then eventually back into those layers of winter clothes and once again riding outside.

First I need more coffee… or a beer, what time is it?


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