The Curse of Winter Slothfulness.

I went out to ride a route of hill after hill after hill after hill yesterday morning. The photograph is maliciously deceptive – they’re not especially long but they are devilishly steep in places. My legs are not yet hill-hardened after a winter of wanton slothfulness, and I found myself regularly dropping into the lowest of the low gear combinations.

I love the land. And I was in a “black-and-white kind of mood this morning.” In fact, I love being in that mood with a camera – or in my case these past several years, an iPhone. Every so often, the topography would level off and I’d stop for a photo op and a tank of oxygen.

Gazing out across a field, it all seems so benign. But I know this route well: It’s my HTFU route, the one I pedal through every spring. It’s the route that gives me a moment of respite before winding back toward the hills and the Missouri River bluffs again, the one that I regret taking. The one that I actually love.

It’s a lonely trek, but clearly someone has been here before me. There’s an empty bottle in the freshly turned soil – a window tossed remnant of a previous night’s revelry? All I know is that it mars my view, the one imperfection in an otherwise perfect scene.

Each stop for image making – and they are frequent and welcome – each stop gives me a chance to breathe in the loamy fragrance of tilled land, to be scolded by a chattering jay perched on a branch behind me. There’s not even a hint of highway noise. That paved monstrosity is many miles away and I enjoy that for the moment this particular country road and moment belongs just to me. A single pickup truck passed me earlier but otherwise mine is a solitary outing.

The rollers begin again, gently at first, but with little fanfare each subsequent wave increases in contrast, and before long I’m struggling in the granny gear. No stopping for photographs now: That would mean having to initiate a climb mid-hill and there’s no way I’m giving up the momentum of riding down the previous wave! I’m satisfied with those taken from the flatter crest of this route.

For now, it’s time to grit my teeth, enjoy the short climbs, and HTFU.




8 thoughts on “The Curse of Winter Slothfulness.

    • I enjoy the variety of landscape we have in Missouri. In the Northwest there are craggy bluffs abutting flat river bottom farmland. To the south are the huge hills of the not-quite-mountains Ozark Mountains, along with an incredible number of karst caves. Rolling agricultural land, forest, rail lines, lakes, and rivers divide up much of the central portions of the state. Geologically, we transition between several different ages of terra and landmass; here where I live, in fact, is right on the cusp of where the glaciers came to rest: you can find boulders twenty miles from here, carried into Missouri from near the Canadian border. One great way to explore the west-to-east region is to tour on the KATY Trail. Another annual option is the Big BAM, Bike Across Missouri, coming up in June.

  1. lovely wee post , i can fully appreciate the curse ‘ of which you write . I too had a rather lazy winter and felt it last weekend on the ups and downs of a 50 miler i puffed and panted my way around .

    • Every winter I swear I’ll train more, and avoid losing the extra step I’ve gained over the previous months of excellent riding weather. I ride the boring trainer indoors for thirty or thirty-five minutes each day, but the tedium of doing so is wearing. Not to mention the fact that it does very little to keep my climbing muscles intact. And eventually, along about February, I’ll give up on the trainer entirely. I may give cycle-cross a go this next year. (Famous last words.) For now, I’ll just enjoy the fact that I can get out and ride without donning a winter parka!

  2. Not only the photos, but your words are a delight. Winters/cycling. I live on the western coastal waters of Canada where, as in my home state of Washington, ice is a rarity even in the coldest winter months. But having seen 71 winters I ride less during them, down to grocery shopping trips of fewer than 25 or 30 kilometres.

    My knowledge of geography and geology is not the equal of yours, but I was surprised by your reference to Canadian glaciers reaching as far south as Missouri. I recall reading something about a point in northern Minnesota that marks the southern extension of the pre-historic Canadian glacial field. It’s near where today there are two streams less than a kilometre apart. Into one of them you can launch your canoe and paddle to the Hudson Bay. Put into the other and paddle down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer I add canoeing to my enjoyment of self-propelled recreational transportation.

    • One thing I am not is an expert in geology! Although I’ve a few insights into the upside and – more to the point! – the downward side of hills, my knowledge on the subject is limited to a couple of undergrad courses I took because I thought geology sounded interesting. The professor I had in those courses is who shared the boulder story with me. (I’m an art professor – for all I know, those are just great big pebbles!) As I remember his telling, there’s a line of demarcation about twenty miles or so to the north of the present day location of the Missouri River in our county. On the northern side are landforms that are often quite different from those on the southern side of the river. I recall him telling us that those big rocks north of here had originated quite a lot further north. Then again, I could have that story entirely muddled…!

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