Frostville: Riding in the North Coast Winter
Rob Thompson, dressed for the winter. Photo by Russell Lee.
An obnoxious beeping startles you from your slumber and dreams of Heather Graham. Warm in bed you roll over and assess the time, then peer out the window and observe the morning sky; awash with the faint blue of the pre-dawn light. Your eyes widen at what you see. No clouds! No falling snow! Could it be that the sun might finally appear for the first time in two weeks?
Excited, you spring from your warm bed and quickly realize the catch of a clear night sky in winter: it's bloody freezing! Your enthusiasm wanes momentarily. You said you'd ride though, and the cold you'll experience on the bike pales in comparison to the heat you'll catch from your friends if you bail now. This is the reality of riding bikes in Cleveland during winter; it's gonna be cold.
Two pair of tights over one pair of bibs, two base layers, one undershirt, one fleece lined jacket, two pair of socks, and a pair of plastic bags to go between them. Shoe covers, lobster gloves, and a full balaclava. You consider adding your wind breaker, but you'll be off-road and safe from the wind, right? You idiot. Way to over-think the single-digit temperatures genius!
Bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, and you're out the door. The dog runs out with you to do her business, and gives you a puzzled look when she realizes you're not going back inside with her. Stupid human.
"Bloody hell it's cold!" you exclaim as you pedal down the street loud enough to be overheard by your elderly neighbor, who's already out shoveling his driveway. He normally doesn't like you, but on this occasion smiles in your direction as if you share some kind of kinship, bound by the foolishness that only comes with being outside on a day like today when both of you shouldn't be.
Rolling up to your friends house, his wife comes to the door and tells you he isn't coming. He pokes his head out, half kitted up, "It's too cold, it's 7 degrees, I'm not riding". These words come from a hard man, one you know can suffer with the best of them. Obviously, his decision is the correct one. "Fair enough" you say, and roll away solo muttering girls names under your breath.
Riding through the neighborhood to the rendezvous point you think of yourself as a bit of a tough-guy, but this won't last. Descending into the valley you already feel cold, and drag the brakes like a sissy to mitigate some of the speed induced wind chill. As you pull up you're partially surprised to see so many of your riding buddies; all on fat tired mountain bikes to combat the ample snow we've received over the last dew days. You look down at your cross bike and frown behind your balaclava.
"Ready bitches?" someone says, and off you go, laughing out loud as you realize what you and a handful of your friends are doing this frigid Sunday morning. "Nice and sunny" someone cheerily remarks, "great day for a ride!" he continues. "I could think of worse things to be doing. I could be warm and in bed" you reply. "Screw that!" he says. You nod in agreement.
This is way better.