It’s been cold in Central Pennsylvania this entire last week or so. I’m talking below freezing cold – the kind of cold that makes you want to grab your favorite footie pajamas and wrap up in an extra blanket with a hot cup of chocolate (that’s not just me, is it?).
I’m the first one to admit that when it gets a little nippy outside, it’s harder to entice me to ride. There are so many things calling me from inside the house. “Stay inside! Practice your guitar. Watch that ever important NFL Pro Bowl game. Clean the dishes in the sink.” You can tell I’m desperate to find an excuse to stay inside.
At church, my best friend, Jason, asked if I was going to ride. And so begins the cold ride courtship that has occurred more times than I can remember. It’s funny – but the ol’ “playing hard to get” routine starts. Sure it sounds weird, but it is one of the things that keeps allowing us to enjoy this sport.
I tell him, “I don’t know. It’s kinda cold out there.” He smirks – knowing what the next few hours will bring. It’s an unspoken bond that two guys who have known each other since seventh grade can only know. The entire hour of church, I’ll make motions to warm myself up (making sure he sees and hoping I’m not distracting the Pastor or the other people around me). At the end of church, Jason says he’ll run up to our starting spot to see if the road is passable and help determine if we should try to get out. It’s a potential out for me (though I do know I’d really like to get out…).
I go home and get my lunch together. The text from Jason takes awhile. Hopefully, he didn’t get stranded (there’s no winter maintenance on that road). The anxiousness continues. Will I have to truly suck it up and go – or – will I get a free pass to be a sloth and hang out in the warmth of my home?
Then, it comes. The text is not only to me, but also to my brother, Randy (who had already inquired about riding the night before). And so begins the text courtship of the winter ride. I remind everyone that it really is cold outside. The banter begins, and it goes on for a good half hour to an hour.
I had already dressed for the ride and loaded my bike on the back of my SUV, but I don’t let on. I’m continuing to come up with excuses for not riding – and everyone in the text string knows it (kind of….). The funny thing about texts is you’re never really 100% positive that the other person is just joking around. Often, it leads to calling one another’s bluff – until you all find yourself on the trail.
Halfway through the text banter, I finally admit that I’m dressed and ready to go. Only now, it’s Jason’s turn to start waffling. He claims that I made some good points, and he starts texting that he’s thinking a cup of coffee and the couch monster sound like a good idea. This extends our texting courtship. The wooer becomes the hard-to-get-er.
Throw into this banter the text string that starts with my cousin, John. John hasn’t been riding in quite some time. Every week, something seemed to “come up,” so he’d end up bailing. It was to the point that we’d wonder if we should stop asking him – figuring he’d show up when he was ready. Randy had started a conversation with him – and John was waffling between going and not going (hmmmmm…….they had their own texting courtship happening concurrently with mine and Jason’s).
So, I started in on John – and encouraged Jason to do the same. John was now playing hard-to-get and was giving all of the reasons he wouldn’t be out for the day. We sent videos of us riding in the snow from weeks before to encourage him to come out. He told us he was worried about riding in the snow. “Powder,” I corrected him, “and it makes for a softer landing if you fall.” At the end of our conversation, I just said we’d see him next time.
The 1:00 start time approached. I made it to our starting point – and Jason was already there. I still played to the “cold factor” as I rolled up beside him. We started to put on our winter riding gear – waiting for Randy to show up. Shortly, we see his truck pull in with two bikes on the back. No one is visible in the passenger seat – but we know that John did come along after all.
The courtship is complete – and the gang of usual riders was ready to set off for an adventure in the snow.
The funny thing about riding in the cold weather and snow is that it isn’t usually as bad as you think it’ll be when in the warmth and comfort of your home. Nine times out of ten, it ends up being a great ride, and you tell each other that you’re glad we all got out.
Does your group have any funny pre-ride banter and/or rituals? I’d like to hear about them.
Until then, ride on!