My wife's mother died at the end of January. That makes any whinge about lack of riding or skiing opportunities seem unforgivably trivial unless you consider the anti-depressant effects of exercise and the value of positive routines to help overcome the considerable stress of unhappy events.
Indeed, my wife resumed her trainer rides when we returned from the funeral trip. I was the laggard, already in a slump with the destruction of cross-country ski conditions after heavy rain took out most of the trail system a few weeks ago. And I got a headcold on the airplane trip. So the ride I took today was long overdue.
I haven't had this long a break in training since about 1979. Even when I quit racing bikes I still commuted, and I trained for climbing and mountaineering, so I ran, hiked, and followed a regular upper-body conditioning program. Exploring demands fitness.
My wife was a runner for many years. Whenever she needed to jump-start a conditioning program she would run. Unfortunately, the impacts finally caught up with her. She rides the trainer with admirable dedication. She also has discovered the fixed-gear, for when she's inclined to go back out on the roads.
Fixed gear does for me what running did for her. Cross-country skiing is more complete exercise, but requires certain conditions. Ski machines are mentally torturous. When I need to blast the lethargy and get moving, the fixed gear provides the same continuous effort that running requires (no coasting), without the impact.
I've read a little about chi running. It seems intriguing. When I ran, I did not suffer injuries, but I never ran for more than a few months at a time. I would always resume one of my preferred activities when I got the chance. I'm a bike guy. From the little I've skimmed about chi running, it sounds like a way to promote a light-footed stride that I may have possessed naturally. I remember the beginning of every summer in childhood, when all the neighborhood kids would recondition their feet to go barefoot. I ran all over the place with no shoes, once my feet were toughened up. The barefoot stride apparently trains you not to strike heavily on the heel. I do remember padding like an animal when running barefoot.
I would have to run along the roads around here. Some people stud an old pair of running shoes and use the snow machine trails. It's so much easier to break out the fixed gear and knock off ten or fifteen miles.
This is February. It could be the beginning of riding season. It wouldn't be the first time. It needs to be something.
The big snow in the Middle Atlantic region of the US makes my Mobile Groomer idea look pretty good. Big cargo aircraft would transport grooming equipment to create cross-country ski trail networks wherever heavy snow had just fallen. The mobile units would stay as long as they were needed. They could also bring mobile rental and retail facilities to bring the Nordic area to the snow rather than sit in one place and hope the weather comes to them. There are parks and golf courses in many places that see snowy winters on an irregular basis. No one would invest in a permanent facility there, but some sort of broad-based investment system might support mobile facilities.
None of this helps me in snow-deprived New England. I still have to do my rides on the sandy, dusty roads with a cold wind pushing me around. But it would help me, knowing that the bounty of snow somewhere else wasn't going completely to waste.