In every part of the world there are advantages and disadvantages to local and regional climate and weather. There are pros and cons to every place we call home. Living in Arizona for 10 years meant relentless heat but it also meant 365 days a year of riding. That’s a great trade-off! As the thermometer reading climbed it simply meant starting our rides at 6 AM. But now after 10 years in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, BC and Portland, Oregon) I still see the pros and cons of weather.
Sure, this is the time of the year where we really complain. Rain, fog, unrideable trails (not all), and the ever-present darkness weigh heavy on us. December 21st has become a holiday of sorts in my household knowing that it is the shortest day of the year … it’ll only get better (and lighter) here on out. But ironically, I’ve come to love winter here. Not just tolerate it, but embrace it. It has become my favorite time of the year. What?
Self-talk and inner dialogue is a real thing. It is funny how we have an ongoing conversation thread with ourselves. We tell ourselves all sorts of things … and even absurdities. For all of the years living in Arizona I had myself completely convinced (or fooled?) that I loved the heat and arid climate. Sweating was to be embraced. But the moment we moved away I thought to myself, “What were you thinking? That was nuts! That heat sucks!” But for 10 years I loved and enjoyed it. Maybe my love for the rain and darkness is a similar absurdity … but it seems to be working.
The same trail in the winter not just feels different but is different compared to the sunny blissful days of summer. And maybe that is the point. It takes a lot more gumption to ride year round here. That means more self-pep-talks to get onto the trail and then spending more time washing your bike, doing laundry, and cleaning up after your ride. But it is all worth it. The rideable trails in the winter take on almost a magical quality about them. The forests are darker and more brooding, the visual color palette is more muted, and then the moving fog and mist gives the landscape an otherworldly feeling.
That’s why I enjoy the winter blues. I’ve come to embrace them.
Exploring the Columbia Gorge on bike or foot is that much better in the winter. The crowds are gone and you feel the changes in weather and are more acutely aware of your clothing. Maybe it’s just that you feel more alive in the winter. The rain, the tempestuous winds, and dreariness are actually an invitation to get out and ride more.
How about you? How do you cope with the winter blues?
Words and photos by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager.