I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love #trackiscoming.
2016 only marks my second winter commuting by bike. Last winter I rode a borrowed 29er a mile and a half to work and back. This winter I ride seven and a half miles each way. Clipless. On studs. With a fender. And without anything covering my eyes. I never would have dreampt my personal preferences would change so much in such a short period of time.
In the past twelve months I've learned a lot about myself as a cyclist. But nothing has taught me more than my newfound obsession with racing on the track. Here are just a few of the ways track cycling, and training for the upcoming season, has made me love winter riding even more.
** If you're at all interested in riding on the track stop right now & check out the intro classes here. Finish later. This is more important.**
Just keep pedaling.
It's the first rule of track cycling. Because on that fixed gear bike (& on that banking!) if you do stop pedaling, you're going to be in trouble. Before track I would mash, mash, coast. While I still do that from time to time, I've noticed that I have more control when I'm pedaling. I'm still a little too scared to ride my fixed gear bike on the street, let alone in the winter. But my habits from the track have me pedaling through icy patches and large clumps of snow rather than coasting. The momentum of those pedal strokes makes me feel much safer. And I've fallen considerably less this year.
Riding with intention.
Photo by me. Smile by Renee.
Following a training plan has forced me to think carefully about how I structure my time. Just one late night at work can throw off my etire week enough that I might not be able to get everything in. Over the past two months I have become much more in tune with the people and practices that are most important to me. It helps when some of those people are willing to fuse friend time & training time.
It's (usually) better than the trainer.
It doesn't matter how many succulents I put on my windowsill, how loud I blast Dixie Chicks Pandora, or how much I love binge watching Jane the Virgin & Law & Order SVU. I will always prefer riding outside. And I'll push myself way out of my comfort zone to get in those outdoor base miles - even if it means I have to spend extra time on my bike in the cold, dark, snowy ice to feel confident that I'm putting in enough pedal strokes to match what I would do inside. Sorry, trainer. It's not you. It's me.
It's not (always) a race.
Photo by Kat McCarthy.
Some of my teammates last year referred to me as an aggressive commuter. While I admit I have a *bit* of a competitive side, I'd like to point out that I almost always announce my passes with a courteous, 'Coming up on your left!' Since I started competing in sanctioned races, however, I've found myself treating the greenway like a speedway less and less. I've also ditched my need to be competitive with myself in alleycats, finding that I have more fun when I choose to let go of zipping from checkpoint to checkpoint and ride around with friends.
The anticipation is better than ever.
Photo by Anna Schwinn.
Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.