Winter drags on. The earth that can be so yielding and warm is stone hard, unforgiving, and relentlessly cold. It is hard to imagine flowers breaking through that barrier and reclaiming the world though I know that each has its season, that despite its stubbornness, winter must eventually yield. But it is not the cold that keeps me housebound and off my bicycle; it is the ice and snow. This winter it has seemed that no sooner have the roads cleared than a new storm hits, sullen and gray. I am desperate for the road and the solace that it brings.
I worry about the winter weight gain and the loss of fitness. I worry about how I will ever be able to do the early brevet series that I have planned to get to PBP for my swan song. I think of how difficult it will be to go back into that pain and remember being alone in the dark night on my way to Brest, wrestling with the rolling terrain and a desperate desire to sleep, to lay by the side of the road despite the ever present rain. I think how few people really know what it is to be truly weary: mostly soldiers and distance athletes I suppose. I know that despite all the running and triathlons I completed before PBP, I had only been rendered tired, not weary.
Today I finally get out the door for a short ride. The side roads still have icy patches, but I know that if I can make it to 39 the road will be clear. Despite the flatness of the course I can feel the loss of fitness, but I am happy to be here, to feel my muscles working and my lungs steadily taking in and giving out air. Health is such a blessing. Everything is gray and colorless, yet once again I spot the owl winging through the tree branches. I stop to take a picture, breathless yet again at his beauty and still surprised at the gift of seeing him, but as I pause he once again takes flight and I lose sight of him.
I don't have much time before sunset, but I rejoice in being able to be out here. I just can't discipline myself to the trainer. A new batch of icy weather is predicted in a few days. But I am thankful for today, the wind on my face, the sweat on my skin. Alive.