Now that it’s February, our winter rest is over. We are starting to build a base for the coming cycling season. That means riding long distances at a moderate pace.
It can be hard to get going for these rides. It’s easy to be discouraged by the cold weather. On the bike, I feel out of shape – as I should be after the winter rest. To top it off, the flat roads on which we start our base miles are a bit boring for me.
Yet these are the most important rides of the year. In years when I skipped the base miles, my season was hobbled by injuries and/or by sub-par performance. Like farmers preparing the soil and sewing their seeds, riding the base miles lays the foundation for the new season.
This is when I appreciate having great friends with whom I can ride. Not only do we remind each other that it’s time to ride, but the company makes the rides much more enjoyable. Riding with cyclists whom I can trust is important. We know exactly what the others will do, so there is none of the constant yelling “Hole!” “Sand!” “Post!” that you hear on organized rides. Instead, we can focus our conversations on any topic that comes to mind: family, politics, work, philosophy, randonneuring, current events…
As we roll along, we catch glimpses of the distant snow-capped mountains through the clouds, reminding us of the roads we will cycle once summer is back. These “base mile” rides are becoming fun in their own right.
We enjoy visiting places that we don’t frequent during the summer months, when we ride more challenging routes. On cold days, a stop at a bakery is always welcome, but we also know that we don’t want to linger too long, lest our legs get cold and stiff.
And on the way home, we make plans for the next ride. As our form improves and the snow recedes, we soon will begin to frequent our favorite roads again.