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Fall Reflections

It’s just above freezing outside, and I don’t want to get on my bike.

I know I should… it’s been days since I’ve exercised, and the November snow is (finally) melting away. While I consider myself to be a pretty committed cyclist, I have to admit I’m not as hardcore as I’d like to be. Out my kitchen window is a thermometer that reads 36 degrees, and tiny little splashes bounce off of mud puddles in the yard. Not exactly perfect riding weather.

And yet, I think back to a ride I did earlier this Fall, the Michigan Mountain Mayhem: Gravel Grinder up in Boyne City. I had signed up ages before, and it was an awesome goal to be training for. It got me out the door and onto my gravel bike, riding the back roads of Michigan for months, the dirt beneath my tires making me feel that much more in tune with both nature and my machine, a strange yet beautiful contradiction.

As we approached the actual ride weekend, though, things weren’t looking good. The forecast was calling for mid-30s and rain. Everything we saw driving up to Boyne was wet: damp pavement, glistening yellow leaves, soggy dirt. Despite my hoping for a dramatic change in weather, I set out all of my cold weather gear just in case.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. When I set out for my stack of pancakes in the morning the car wouldn’t start. And wouldn’t start, and wouldn’t start. One tow-truck and a new battery later, I was finally able to head over to the race. Inevitably, the weather hadn’t changed, and to top it all off, the rest of the pack had left a full hour before I even showed up. However, thanks to a great race director, we were able to ride the course anyway and headed off into the misty rains.

And despite the car trouble, despite the weather, and despite missing the start of the race, it was an EPIC ride. Pedaling as hard as I could up a hill sticky with mud, I realized, maybe it was epic because of all the setbacks? Despite everything working against me, I was still in beautiful country having a great ride.
I’m looking out my window again. Still cold, still wet. If only I had the right fenders. If only I had a bad-weather bike. If only riding on a trainer didn’t suck. But then I realize, I can still get out there and turn over the pedals. And I know, without a doubt, that when I roll back to the house in an hour or two, I’ll feel even better about myself because I went to ride in spite of the weather, in spite of the cold. Maybe I’m more hardcore than I thought. Or maybe I just have this weird, unhealthy relationship with my bike. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve realized something, and I’ve found something that makes me truly happy, no matter the weather.


About the Author:


Lewis Caskey is an English teacher at Goshen High School and turns wrenches at Pumpkinvine Cyclery during the Summer months.  He is a dedicated bike commuter and racer competing in road, cyclocross, gravel, and mountain bike events.





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