Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why I Don't Ride In Winter

At the sound of the alarm my body doesn't rally into the day like it once did. The cold air before the furnace comes to life makes seems unbearable. It's 57 degrees in the bedroom but 25 outside. If I have trouble facing the house is it any wonder that riding in winter makes no sense?

I do ride through the winter but the transition from sleep to awake, from indoors to outdoors, from not riding to riding is a terribly high hurdle. Homeostasis works overtime on me. It is a reason I don't ride more in winter.

The Vespa idled in the driveway before work. Clear skies, cold air, and a bit of time before needing to be at work.

Once I get moving I'm fine. Happy. Ecstatic even. But heaven help me through the transition. The roads were clear save for gravel and salt residue. Turning off the road onto a snow covered farm lane for a short detour was short lived. The Pirelli tires are absolutely useless in snow. After riding (pushing) the Vespa a short ways it occurred to me that my energy would be better used elsewhere.

At the end of the day I feel the same transition challenge to get myself out the door. Once on the Vespa things improve and I decide to ride home another direction.

Riding along on more heavily trafficked roads is a mixed blessing. More cars to deal with but I get a sick sense of thrill knowing I am not sitting behind the wheel.

Anyways, there are other more obvious reasons I don't ride in winter --- snow, ice, extreme temperatures. But the real riding killer is homeostasis. I get comfortable and have a hard time transitioning. Riding, diet, exercise, you name it. It's a constant negotiation to get up and go, to take action. Action isn't my middle name...


Doug C said...

Once again, Steve, you have nailed the essence of winter activities. The law of physics that says a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest is a good analogy for me transitioning from a warm home to a cold ride.

But once riding, its not too bad, almost exhilarating. The transition is the killer.

Conchscooter said...

That last picture doesn't look like the sticks to me with all that busyness...Personally I never want to be cold again, and its supposed to get to 57 degrees, outside, tonight. Frost free for me thanks.

Road Captain said...

Count me out of action from the beginning of January into March. I don't enjoy being cold, I don't enjoy riding in the cold, so why should I do it? My HOG chapter can poke fun at me all they want, but my bike is winterized and I am home warm typing blog posts and reading other blog posts like yours... and life is good. But it will be ten times better in the spring!

Steve Williams said...

doug c: It just takes a force of will for me to get up and ride when it is really cold. I think some part of me is glad to see the weather forecast call for snow...

It's windy and 10 degrees right now and the roads are dry. I figured I would ride to work but the weather forecast is calling for snow showers on and off all day. I don't know what it means but it is enough to have me reaching for the keys to the truck.

conchscooter: The last picture is one of the less scenic and more heavily trafficked paths home. I seldom ride that way unless I want to shoot a picture of hell. And by most urban standards it is pretty tame. That's rush hour and there isn't much rush.

Since you don't want to be cold anymore I guess you are never going to stay at Sweden's ICE HOTEL.

road captain: There is something to be said for spring riding after a long absence. And I certainly am becoming more enamored of staying warm and cozy at home.

I checked out your site and watched the video illustrating the heightened sexiness of Harley riders. No wonder there are so many around and so few Vespa's!

irondad said...

I would be the last to pressure you to ride in snow and ice. Especially in traffic. Weirdly enough, I've been just the opposite, lately. I wake up at around 4 AM ready to go. It's a little after 5 right now. Used to be like that and then it faded. Now it's back. Don't know why.

I gotta go ride. It's just above freezing, clear, and the half moon is shining brightly!

Ale- said...

oh, I just didn't notice much the transition from fall to winter riding, but I must be luckier as in the coast of Tuscany the temperatures did never fall below 2 deg C, so the cold has never been a concern.
C'mon, Steve, you are the Vespa rider stitched in my mind as "the all-year-long rider", how can you post such a retreat? har har har! just jokin'.
enjoy life as you like, it's the only way to live I know...!

Pvino said...


Enjoy your warmth and in-door comfort and avoiding a dreaded cold or worse off a severe seasonal Flu. That will surely stop your scootering/BLOGGING.
Spring coming around the corner. Someday I may buy one of those super small capsule car "Smart" or "Fit" and drive around taking pictures when weather affects my scootering enjoyment. Besides the the capsule cars are small enough that will make me feel like I am riding a scooter. :)

Stay warm and comfortable spring is around the corner.

Lucky said...

When I lived in Minnesota, I always found short jaunts outside in the winter to be worse that longer periods. The shock of the temperature change is horrible at first, but eventually one gets used to it and resumes having a good time. Too bad that usually takes me a solid ten minutes...

I love the photos in this post.

Sarch said...

I know exactly of what you speak Steve!

Many times I had to "make myself" saddle up for a ride because I knew that once I broke the seal and made myself get "out there" I would be glad. And it has never failed to be an accurate prediction of how I ended up feeling about the ride.

Steve Williams said...

irondad: My experience has been similar. The desire to ride has ebbs and flows. I expect to be riding more soon. The snow is melting...

ale: I have definitely not been riding as much. Not sure exactly why but I'm sure that will change.

pvino: I have so far dodged the flu. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

sarch: Exactly. Once on the road things get better!

Timothy said...

In one of the books about the history of Watertown, Wisconsin, there is a chapter about the (in)famous man whom reporters from Milwaukee came out to write about (40 miles west), known for hibernating the entire winter. I'm convinced our circadian cycles make us more inclined to sleep longer in the winter.
This winter in particular, with it's record snow and cold, is a lot different from last year when I rode most of the year. I've had a hard time even getting out to thegarage to run and warm up my engine, although I've done it. My tires are somewhat bald, and I am mostly waiting for roads that are free of ice here in Michigan. Alas, it is March and the time is coming.
But I sure relate to what you write. Most of us do, because winter is a time for huddled, curled up coziness and sleep!