What a difference a year makes.

I’ve been riding a lot this year, even in this cold weather.  I know that cold weather doesn’t keep “serious cyclists” from their training rides (and sometimes, cold weather just means riding the rollers or the trainer), but it keeps me from doing a lot of things.  I hate the cold, and I really hate the darkness that comes with winter.

Last year at this time, in addition to hating the cold and the dark, I also hated my job.  I knew that I would be job searching in the spring and I became obsessed with finding a job in a place with warmer weather.  Cliff was a bit difficult to convince, but I just knew that warmer weather would make everything better.  

It turns out that warmer weather was not in my future… Cliff got promoted at work, and I eventually took the job at Lake Forest College.  While I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be staying in Chicago, I was excited about my new job, and hoped that would be enough to make the cold winters more bearable.

Then, along came cross season.  I “raced” cross last season, which meant that I did a few races and merely hoped to finish without killing myself.  I dropped out of one race because of a crash that sent me over my handlebars, but I finished every other race that I entered.  But, I wasn’t riding on non-race days because it was cold and dark out.  If the temps dropped below 40 degrees, there was no way in hell I was getting on my bike – and I barely got out of bed to hit the gym once or twice a week.

This year, I decided that my new goal was to finish every race, and to just not be last.  I’ve continued riding even after the temps dropped below 40 degrees and I’ve found that just the act of getting on the bike each day makes the winter more bearable.  Of course, warmer gear helps, too.  With only one more race to go, I’ve met my goal in every race!

Over the past four days, I have ridden outside every single day, for at least two hours each day.  Once cross season is over, I will more than likely hang up the bike for the winter and start hitting the gym, but I’m proud of myself for making it this far into the winter.

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Winter is my least favorite season.  Every time I move, I try to move somewhere warm, but it just never seems to happen.  Thankfully, it’s gotten better over the years: Alaska to Mass. to Minnesota to Chicago.  Okay, I guess “better” is relative and it all depends on the year.  Anyways, once winter sets in and the days start getting shorter and the darkness comes earlier and stays later, I have a really hard time motivating myself to do much of anything.  If I’m lucky, I can roll my ass out of bed in time to hit the gym before work.  More often than not, though, I stay in bed and barely drag my butt out in time to just barely get to work on time.

This winter, I hope, will be different.  I enjoy my job a lot more this year than I did last year (let’s face it, I was pretty miserable last year) and so far, I enjoy getting up to go to work each morning.  Hopefully that feeling will carry me through the winter.  And, I’ve never been much of a winter sports person, but this year I hope to try out cross country skiing.  I followed Junebug as she blogged about cross country skiing and it sounds like a good time, and a great work out.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll make it through the winter a little easier if I can find something active that I actually enjoy doing in the snow and cold.  We’ll see.

Cross season starts in a week, I think.  I need to look at a calendar to be sure.  I haven’t been able to go to cross practice because of my commute, but I hope to stop by tomorrow night on my way home from work.  I’ll have slicks on, rather than knobbies, but I can at least watch and try to learn as the guys go through the course.  On Sunday, Cliff taught me how to do the step through dismount!  I’m not early comfortable enough to expect to do it well in a race, but I’m going to keep on practicing.