My animals are creatures of habit. Sunday we managed to run out of food for the cat and treats for the dog. My wife left for the grocery store and I stayed home with my son to play with some of his toys as he was sniffling and we didn’t want to take him out and expose him to more germs, or worse, expose other people to his germs. The cat normally eats around four. The dog gets a Milk Bone ever once in a while throughout the day. Neither could understand why food guy didn’t have anything for them. Both of them slowly ramped up the histrionics thinking that I was withholding their food for some reason. The cat was yeowling on the stairs and the dog was constantly underfoot begging for something, anything to eat. When my wife came home and the food was meted out, everything quickly returned to normal. You would have never known that the two animals were just carrying on as if they hadn’t eaten for days, not hours. Order had been restored and they had already forgotten that they had to wait an extra 30 minutes past their normal feeding.
This little drama got me thinking about how alike the cat and dog I can be in my habits. When the spring gets here I will fall right into my normal routine. I will train four days during the week and go bowling the other night. Each weekend day I will go for a bike ride before the rest of my family wake up, taking care of the training ride and my sanity all at the same time. I will continue this schedule throughout the spring, summer, and into the fall. The only variation will be weekends with organized rides, obstacle races, or the few 5K races I have planned. I am hoping that this year will be no different than the last two and my weight loss will kick into high gear along with my mood. I feel so much better when I can fall into this routine, my muscles may be sore but I am a happier and healthier person once everything falls into place.
I think that this is part of what makes the winter such a challenging season for me. Once the temperature drops past a certain point I am no longer comfortable riding. The cold and the wind are a struggle, but the early onset of darkness seals my fate and forces me indoors. Even on rare thaw days I tend to stay inside as once the first snow hits the roads become even more challenging with a layer of salt and sand waiting to catch me out as soon as I stop concentrating on my lines. Anyone who lives through a winter climate will understand what I mean, even if some, or most, will call me a weather wimp. There are truly dedicated riders out there who have the fortitude, and the equipment, to ride year round. I am not one of them.
Once I retreat indoors I try to stay active and ride my bike on the trainer. There are some great videos that help pass the time and I will be reviewing another Sufferfest offering soon, but none of them can disguise the fact that I am riding in my basement forever. I did join a gym this year and that has helped vary the winter routine and lessen the winter doldrums, but not enough. I find that I start the winter in a decent mood and a great level of fitness and both slowly slide downhill until spring. I end up acting just like my pets, my habits are forced to change and the drama that results is disproportionate to the circumstances. I yowl and pace and beg for warm weather and a decent ride. I try to distract myself and I drive the people who live with me crazy as I feel on edge until the weather finally breaks. I feel bad for my wife and son as they deal with my frustrations.
Thankfully, just like my pets, as soon as the weather passes and I start knocking down training rides on the weekend my mood instantly improves. The first rides through the rail trails as the trees finally show signs of life sprouting green buds and moss lifts my mood and helps me refocus on my center. My wife has even commented on how quickly my grumpy demeanor fades once I ride outside. She is sure Jekyll leaves the house but Hyde returns.
I know that the Tour Down Under is over and the Tour of Qatar is kicking off so spring must be approaching. There is about three weeks until we turn the clocks ahead and steal some more daylight, and I couldn’t be happier until I finally clip in and start getting to those weekend training rides. I am a creature of habit after all.