Monday, November 17, 2008

Into the dark, wet tunnel

The next four months of bike-commuting will feel like a trip through a long, dark tunnel with the fire sprinklers on for me. It's just another California winter, but it's always a bit of a shock when Daylight Savings Time ends... and it usually seems to coincide with the first rain storms too.

Monday night, a couple of weeks ago, I rode home from work in that dark, wet tunnel and thought about how most people get excited at this time because they get to set their clocks back an hour. But for me it's just a kind of depressing milestone that marks the end of summer's great riding conditions. I'll try to focus on the positive; that I can ride at all. And that maybe there will even be some dry days too!

Riding home my legs felt awesome, no doubt because of an incredible, dense chocolate cake my boss baked to celebrate a miraculous quarter at HP. That cake must have weighed nearly 10 pounds. The empty carbs went straight to my legs, and yet the calories were gone before I got home! That energy really made my hard FTP workout in the nasty weather almost fun. I managed to work in some very hard upper-L4 intervals, even though I'd done some in the morning too. I laughed at the storm as I pedalled through the darkness like some crazy phantom.

Actually. The worst slogs often become the best adventures. Outside magazine had a great quote from some guy who said that too. I could really identify with him. That article reminded me of my worst trip ever way back into the High Sierras; a horse and pack-mule trip where we had a guide who dropped us off in our camp in Pioneer Basin. Storms hit us with cold, high winds, rain and snow causing lots of misery... but I will never forget how amazingly alive I felt. In spite of spending four days in the hospital when I got home.

But, in fact, the weather recently has been spectacular and summer-like. This last weekend I rode up HWY9 and sweated like a pig while riding my intervals. Then Sunday I went surfing for the first time in months, to prepare for our upcoming trip to Mexico. I almost paddled out in board shorts! But the water is always cold enough that I still wore my wetsuit. Nice session, but now I'm a bit sore.

So I know that the rain and dark, while necessary, will end. And maybe I should try to appreciate the special beauty of winter while it's here. Every day is a gift.