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My Forever Annual Song of Winter
December 15, 2016

Every year it seems like I am compelled to write something about how great winter is and how lame are people who whine about it. It's an evergreen. Because each year I get stunned yet again by people who it really seems would know better.

It happened again already this season.

We live in downstate Michigan. There are thousands of gungho bikers around here who love getting ready every fall for their big season finale race, the Iceman. They also love jumping into the early spring season each year with their beloved Barry Roubaix gravel road race. Many enjoy cyclocross. Bikers in general are usually quite proud of their weather toughness. They have special kit for the cold. They use headlamps for night riding. They revel in the adversity of mud and rain.

...And when it gets cold and snowy they start complaining.

It just boggles my mind.

Our region seems especially prone to Winter Hate.

Are there other areas similarly bad? ...I've seen a few cartoonish articles in Dirt Rag about how mtbikers hate winter so bad, how the cabin fever of life on the couch drives them crazy. Total nonsense. A cheapshot joke that might be a wee bit funny if America weren't so obese and ignorant. ...And if they also published normal off-season articles about enjoying life outside. It's a national mag so maybe other places are as bad as we are.

Most cold regions I can think of, though, including up north Michigan, love winter. Outdoor people just keep doing fun stuff year-round, which makes sense. They change, adapt, with the seasons. Sure, maybe they slow down but do they call one season worse than another? Say there's less beauty? That just wouldn't be right.

So here we go...

Winter is great because cold is relative and easy to deal with. You just wear a bit more clothing. You wear the right clothes. ...For sport, for casual fun, for going to work, and going for errands or socializing. There's no reason anyone should painfully freeze during winter.

Winter is great because if you move around you get warm. Once you get your blood flowing the body is great at feeling toasty. It helps to get out of the wind. The windier it is where you're wandering the more you have to cover up. In the shelter of a forest you can dress lightly and if you're toodling along you'll warm right up.

Winter is great because you can wear more cool clothes. All those layers and accessories. Fun!

Winter is great because nature has a whole new look. The air is cleaner, the leaves are off the trees giving new vistas, the snow is white, everything looks different. What's not to love?

Winter is great because its sports feature GLIDE. And glide makes a human grin. Well, it takes more than glide. I will explain. But first... What sports? Well, how about skiing. Skiing is a great way to enjoy winter, as is ice-skating. So, there's two sports. They use the cold, so we're giving them winter. Skiing is great for the same three reasons we like any sport: *It flows. *It has rhythm. *It feels like you get out more than you put in.

...Also, skiing works anywhere there's snow. How much snow? An inch is as good as a mile. Ppl complain about "not enough snow" around here. What are they talking about? As long as we have frozen ground, a 1" base, and an 1" on top, a ski is as happy as if it was in Aspen. Even less usually works. You don't need much to get all the ski fun.

Skiing also has a good input/reward ratio because of its minimalism. Skiing uses 4 sticks, basically. And it delivers all-body 3-dimensional glide fun.

(I hate appealing to "cross training," but whatever your sport -- especially if it's biking -- if you XC ski all winter you'll come into spring fitter than ever, healthier, happier, and injury resistant. Sure, if you're a biker, ride the trainer, spin, lift weights -- but also get outside for unbeatable cardio a few times/wk!)

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