It's ten minutes into my ride. The conditions suck. The trail has multiple sections that I have to walk. I'm over dressed. My tires are over inflated. my seat is too high. My headphones won't stay in my ear and iTunes seems to be going out of it's way to pick songs I don't want to hear. Everything sucks. Going up the big climb, the front wheel goes off the packed trail and I fall over. Again. I've spent a whole lot of this ride walking my bike, sinking into a foot of completely f**ked up snow. I stare at my bike and fume. I wonder why the hell I do this and I wonder why biking in snow sucks so much.
A minute later I've stripped off a layer, lowered the tire pressure and the saddle and I'm back up the hill.
A minute after that I'm on my way down the winding singletrack on the backside of the hill. Everything is fantastic. The tires are gripping, I'm not overheating. The trail is still f**ked up but now it's a challenge, not a curse.
Second lap, I know where the bad sections of trail are and I'm ready for them. Still have to walk the bike but I'm ready for it. Third lap, ditto. Things get better.
I'm finding that there's a really really thin line between a good day biking in the snow and a bad day. So far I haven't had a day that couldn't be salvaged. The trails are never the same twice. Today, the snow was old. It had the consistency of wet pea gravel and the density of oatmeal. The day of rain yesterday probably didn't help. Even on the best sections of trail I never got out of my granny gear. An hour and 10 minutes later I still hadn't cracked 5 miles. Some days, the best part of a ride is when it's over.
It's almost spring and winter has lasted a little too long this year. I'm ready for the effortless speed of my road bike. Ready for flat sections that don't feel like climbing hills, ready for descents I can coast, ready for not covering every inch of skin with multiple layers of lycra and wool.
But the truth is, I have a smile on my face that wouldn't be there if I'd skipped the ride. That makes it all worth it.
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