I #lovemnwinter! Today, "I crank".
By Judy Kerr
Judy is a fair weather, flatlander-type of biker who has rolled outside her comfort zone for the second winter in a row.
Do I love winter biking? Hmmm. Good question. Let’s find out the answer. Come ride with me.
Winter group ride. Full moon ride. I’m a fair weather biker. I’m a flatlander. I’m an introvert. This group ride thing forces an introvert outside her comfort zone, but at the same time allows solitude. Ah, yes, a win-win.
Brisk winds along the muddy frozen river. I crank. Keep moving to get warm I tell myself. Riders behind me bringing up the rear. No rider left behind. Some muffled conversation. Mostly quiet, but for the night sounds. Wind. Some traffic. A runner. More wind. I crank.
Crackle and crunch of studs rolling over the blacktop trail with banks of frozen snow on either side. Voices fading from the group in front. Fat bike rider ahead peels off the trail and bounces over the frozen confection. I crank.
I tell myself to keep the pedals turning. The wind gusts bite at my eyes behind my glasses. Tears seep from my eyes and I barely acknowledge their warmth before they turn cold as the night air. I swipe with a gloved fingertip removing the liquid before it can freeze. I bow my head in honor of the power the wind has over me. I fall into a zone where I tell myself to pedal. I watch the front wheel turn over the pavement carrying me along the dark path. Occasionally a car’s headlights break into the settling darkness reminding me that the four wheeled metal and fiberglass guzzlers are out and about, too. I crank.
My toes are cold. Though my trusty boots and wooly socks are stellar the chilly air snakes its way in reminding me who’s boss on this night. Not me. Winter is queen bee; I’m a simple worker bee. And I crank.
After slightly more than nine miles I’ve arrived at the frozen falls. Not first. Not last. The brilliantly lit drape of frozen water spews forth puffs of fine mist. I notice that there is still moving water beneath the wintry curtain. The beauty makes the trek worthwhile. After a couple of quick selfies/usies I’m anxious to be on the move. My toes are screaming. My butt has become a well-padded ice block.
Mount up. Head ‘em out. Second to roll out on the return leg of the ride. I follow my better half. Together. Alone. The group behind us. Along the creek. I crank. Through the park. Past the empty tennis courts. I crank. Keep moving. Onto Chicago Avenue. Cars. Buses. Bright lights, big city. The peace has dissipated. Sharing the road requires firing on all cylinders. No time for mind wandering, zen-like riding. Pay attention. Watch the road. Mind the vehicles because they could care less about us. I crank.
Uphill. Great plumes of steamy breath precede my ascent. My lungs crank. My legs crank. I keep moving. Downhill. My toes are freezing. I coast. Little stabs, tiny pinpricks of pain shoot along my thighs. Red light. Green light. I crank. I follow the leader. Park Avenue bustling in the cold night air. Tailwind pushes me along. I crank. Ah, the Greenway. Now I dare to dream about a steaming hot coffee awaiting me at the end of this journey. I crank. We skip the LRT in favor of Minnehaha Avenue, a more direct route says my honey. I crank. Closer. Screams of pain jolt through my thighs. I can feel it brewing. My thighs are working themselves up to a full-blown tantrum. I crank.
Franklin Avenue. Is that Franklin up ahead? Yes. Yes, it is. I crank harder. Dig deeper. The goal is in sight. Sustenance. Warmth. Crowd be damned. I’m happy to be inside. I flop into a chair. Helmet off. Bag on the floor. Rub. Rub. Rubbing my thighs. Make the stabbing stinging twinges abate. Stand up. Move. Sit down.
Menu? Beer instead of coffee? Yes! Soup and grilled cheese please. Jupiter bar? Yes times two. Food and drink is divine intervention. Conversating with two other bikers from the group ride…priceless.
So, do I love winter biking? I think the answer is, yes. Because food, drink and conversation…oh, and despite all the pain (who invented the phrase, “no pain, no gain”?) the results are good health. Cheers!
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.