Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Winter Solstice

Happy New Year.

As of 0742 this morning, the sun is on its way back north. We won't notice much of a difference until about January 10, but the corner has been turned.

At the risk of making the years seem short and devaluing the seasons, spring will be here in no time. Maybe the weather won't get warm where you live until May or June, but the days get long enough for some riding outside even before the Spring Equinox in March.

If you like some winter sports, as I do, carry on. May the winter bring you the conditions you desire. But this is a good time to do bike overhauls. It's easy to forget until you want to take that first nice ride on an early warm day. Next thing you know, you're flogging those gritty hubs through July.

It's also hard to remember to start shaping the body to the new season even as the old one is ending. I pick up about two pounds of upper body muscle through cross-country skiing. I base this on the changing scale readings from one season to the other. It's not all Christmas cookies. Come spring, that extra chunk around the shoulders and arms is just sitting there, weighing down the handlebars when I try to climb hills. I cursed the lack of it as I tried to ski up hills in late December. In March I curse its presence.

If you're a pure cyclist, this is trainer season. I did that for a couple of years in Maryland before I developed strong winter interests. It has a single-minded purity to it. There is cycling and there is wishing you could be cycling. While you wish, ride the trainer and the free-standing rollers. Do cycling-specific weights. Weights and trainer build strength and maintain aerobic fitness. The rollers teach pure technique.

The sun is returning. Go out to meet it.

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