By Leonard Van Drunen, Team OAM Now cyclist
Ed Note: Lots of riders turn indoors when the weather gets cold and rely heavily upon cross-training, or trainers. However, many brave souls don extra layers and don’t let a little cold scare them off the bike. Team OAM Now cyclist Leonard Van Drunen captures the feeling of a brisk ride with teammates.
I feel the chill from the crisp air as I quietly roll out with my teammates, the only humans in sight. The familiar and comfortable pedaling motion starts, chasing yesterday’s “grumpies” away. The music of crunching gravel wakes my ears. Little ridges of packed earth play with my front tire, connecting my eyes to my brain to my hands. I am fully present.
Still no humans, save my fellow cyclists. I am chillier than expected and wonder if I should have added a layer. My teammates, spinning gravel, crunch on my right and ahead of me. I hope for sun on my face soon.
The first climb is welcome as my heart and lungs chime in, followed by a slow burn in my legs. Soon the burn warms my entire body and, when I summit, the sun finally greets me. My teammate asks me something, but I have no breath to answer. I push on ahead, pretending the climb was no shock to my system. Not the cold, not the climb.
Two wild turkeys scurry off the road as the next climb appears around the bend. The cold is gone from my body. I find a good rhythm, and the crunchy music plays on. We grind on, together. Today, all of it, the cold, the bike, the climbs, the grind, the rhythm, is going to be a good day.
If you’d like to brave the cold and join a gravel ride this winter, check out the following sites for potential rides or riders:
West Michigan Gravel Rides
Kalamazoo Bike Club (Or join their Facebook group here and ask for company!)
Grand Rapids Wheelmen
Stay warm. Keep pedaling.