I enjoyed a great snow ride out to Ottawa Beach and back tonight. I love the sensation of floating you can experience when riding on a couple of inches of fresh snow. Tonight I enjoyed not only fresh snow on the ground, but fresh snow falling which looked like diamonds in my headlamp, sometimes even biting my cheeks like they were just as sharp, too. The cold air was refreshing in my lungs, outside of the occasional snowflake that snuck in.
As I approached the beach, I could smell a fire from one of the cottages I passed. I envisioned myself enjoying a wood burning fireplace in my lakeside home on a cold snowy night like tonight. Definitely a cozy thought considering my activity at that moment. That smell was immediately followed by the smells of Ottawa Beach Inn, a local restaurant that serves dynamite food. I could have easily stopped for a burger.
Bike path riding can present a wide variety of challenges and pleasures, as it did tonight. Some spots are unaltered by walkers or street plow spray and remind me of laying fresh ski tracks at Bridger Bowl, MT when I was in college. Other stretches include everything from thick heavy snow boulders left behind by the path plow to snow banks created by plow drivers clearing driveways. As a friend of mine says, “I’m all teeth” riding in conditions like tonight.
Riding in the snow is also a great workout. It can provide varying levels and combinations of strength and balance, and if I’m lucky can offer some reprieve once and a while. I rode for 45 minutes tonight and kept an average heart rate of 148bpm which is a level I usually only obtain when trail riding. I would much rather be riding this work out than sitting in the basement on a trainer.
Despite all of these experiences and reasons for winter riding, my favorite part about it is just being outside. It’s just refreshing to be outside in the winter. I feel so much better after a good ride. I’ve said for a few years that people in Michigan who hate winters just need to get out and play in it. Its not a matter of finding something you’re passionate about, just find something you don’t hate and try it. I bet you’ll feel a ton better afterwards and actually take some of the bitterness out of your attitude.