Although we in the NYC area didn’t get enough snow to warrant sending out every reporter with microphone into empty parking lots to show that there was snow falling from the sky, the accumulation was enough to make it very difficult to ride a non-fat bike anywhere but inside one’s own bike cave. Granted, if I owned a fat bike, this would’ve been the perfect week to use it (fat bike owners all over the East Coast relished the opportunity brought about by the snow, as they only have about fifteen days per year that truly warrant the ownership and usage of their fat bikes, so they have to get those rides in while they can), but my spousal bike-cloaking devices are at full capacity, and I’m sure that a bike with tires like a monster truck would attract attention and an unwanted auditing of the number of bikes I have stashed about the house.
I have been riding on my trainer indoors, and have settled into a routine designed to stave off madness as I attempt to ride two hours per sitting on my bike simulator. Firstly, I watch TV. But not just any TV, I carefully DVR enough shows to last a two hour session. In the beginning, I watch a few shows I record every day, and that’s enough to get me through the first 42 minutes, after which I get off my bike and reward myself by grunting out some abdominal exercises on my bike cave’s mostly filthy floor. After that, the TV options turn desperate. If it’s a good day, maybe there’s a stage of the Tour Down Under to help me towards my 120 minutes of panting. Near the halfway mark, I then treat myself to the act of putting on my terry cloth ABA-style headband. Like the days scratched into the wall of a prisoner’s cell, this activity serves to mark the halfway point of my sentence. Once I have been be-head-banded, it’s time to get to work; and I do any of the interval work that is required for the day to be a mighty one. Once I hit the two hour mark, I am overwhelmed with a sense of relief, I dismount and kiss the filthy floor of my basement and silently swear to myself “never again—unless Top Chef is on the DVR”.
I’ve repeated that sequence of events for four of the last five days, and it’s beginning to get tiresome. As convenient as riding my trainer is, it doesn’t deliver the combination of body chemicals that’s produced when I head outdoors and have to balance my bike and make turns and such. It’s been suggested that cycling can act like medications such as Ritalin, which is something that should be debated by people who do science—people such as “not me”—but I can say that anecdotally, even though I do not suffer from ADHD, I feel much sunnier after a ride outdoors. I get less of this Ride-a-lin™ (see what I did there—branding!) when I’m on my trainer. It seems that the pull of gravity, the fine motors skills it take to balance as you avoid potholes and minivans and the exhilaration felt when you narrowly escape minivan pulverization all add up to form a very addicting hormonal cocktail.
And this week, I have not been at my regular hormonal happy hour. The forecast portends more days underground, and with only my terry cloth headband to mark the days until I see daylight again, it’s looking like a long haul.