I will admit I’m not always tough enough to ride in the cold wind. In February there are more days when I choose not to ride than when I choose to ride, especially when the temperature is in the 30’s. But around here the cold doesn’t last long; in fact, really cold days are rare, so taking on the weather is not a daily chore but an occasional fun adventure.
Which brings me to last Monday, a holiday, popularly known as President’s Day. It was the perfect day to organize a group bike ride since most of my cycling buddies had the day off and since most of us had already finished our obligatory weekend chores.
The Saturday and Sunday before had been sunny and in the 70’s and suitable for shorts and T-shirts, but when I woke up at 7:30 AM Monday morning I discovered it was 34*. I texted to my fellow cyclists, Cory and Brian: “34* Is morning still good?”
We bounced texts back and forth, none of us wanting to pull the plug on riding in the cold. Finally, I knew it was my duty to make the call since I was the oldest of the group. I texted: “OK. Let’s wait until noon.”
We met at my house at noon in all our cold weather gear. However, by delaying the start 3-1/2 hours we only gained 5* in warmth and now the wind was picking up so it was hard to know if we’d improved our situation. But we didn’t get all dressed up for nothing. We had to ride. And there is the rule of guys: Choose discomfort, even death, over looking bad.
Once we started riding, the cold wasn’t such a big problem. It was the wind. But the wind is always the main problem when cycling in West Texas, since we have no hills to climb. At Monday noon it was blowing from the north and west at 14 mph and increasing. We knew it wouldn’t let up until September.
Just before we left on our ride I saw a post from friend (and half-cousin-in-law) Michael, who said he was going golfing in shorts and a polo shirt, in Seattle. I posted back, “I am going cycling in all my cold-weather gear, in Texas.”
It was a great ride, and a prime reminder of why we do things together like this. We discussed Sunday’s Bible study lesson on prayer, learned of common career backgrounds as youth pastors, shared kid stories, shared a few cycling war stories, and made fun of our cycling friends who missed the ride.
Our northern friends might not consider what we did to be true cold-weather riding, but it was as cold as I plan to ride unless I buy lots more winter gear. Our southern friends might ask why we didn’t exercise inside instead, but, well, for me, riding on a stationary bike or running on a treadmill inside, no matter how bad the weather, is simply exercise ... a workout … it is just work.
But riding or running outside, even in the cold and wind, especially with friends who’ll share the discomfort, is play … an adventure … it’s fun.
And we don’t have to dig out our winter gear very often. If cold weather in Texas lasted for weeks, or for months, riding would lose all semblance of fun. But it doesn’t, so it is.
Later, that Monday night, I read from Christine Carter’s book, The Sweet Spot. “In today’s hyper-busy world, most people don’t rest or rejuvenate much. We don’t allow ourselves the “non-instrumental” activities in life.” Ms. Carter believes that because we don’t schedule fun into our lives we become less effective, less efficient, and grumpier over time.
I wrote in the margin of my book, “Today’s ride was fun, rejuvenating, and it made me happy. I’m feeling more effective and efficient already. I can’t wait to ride together in 100* this summer.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32