Winter is still a few months away. Thankfully. I’m still enjoying the bike and the sunshine and the heat. It’s been a warm September. With the 24 Hours of Moab fast approaching, and the cyclocross experiment getting underway, I find myself still engaged in that competitive mindset that drove me to near insanity during the spring and summer months. Often, by this point in the year I am ready to put the heart rate monitor and the interval workouts away for a few months. No numbers on the bike. No entry fees. No restless, anticipatory nights of sleep.
That is not to suggest that the competitive spirit is vanquished during the winter. In fact, in some ways, it is even more vibrant and apparent. Every dawn patrol or skate ski or indoor sufferfest is done with the bright day of spring start lines focused firmly in the deluded reaches of what may be. It’s those possibilities that help me stay active during the dark, hibernation-inducing days of winter. Or that motivate me to trudge up a 3,000 foot ski run at dark-thirty.*
*The sweet, creamy powder is also a small motivator.
However, the absence of any sort of regular competitive schedule is a refreshing reprise from the weekly grind of racing. The winter becomes a time to sneak into the mountains in ways, and in places, that are impossible to reach on a bike—and largely so on foot, without the aid of climbing gear. That is, the peaks and the razor-back ridges of the Wasatch are dulled under the greatest snow on Earth, making possible the relative easy ascension of magnificent and lonely perches.
And that is the winter difference.
My competitive spirit urges me to try ski racing—skimo and XC—and I very well might at some point. But I don’t think it will ever become the driving force that bike racing is. I enjoy the mental downtime. The quiet. And, perhaps most of all, spending the winter looking forward to the focused days of racing, training, and delusional, far-reaching ambitions.
But winter is not here yet.
And so, the delusions of grandeur continue.