Mother nature needs some etiquette lessons. This snowy slushy BS is out of control. Yes, I know many of you are probably rolling your eyes as you read this because you live in places that get feet and feet of snow constantly and you are hardened winter warriors. I am not. So when it snows I run through this odd range of emotions. It goes a little something like this.

  • It’s so pretty!
  • It’s sticking!
  • It’s so fun riding in snow!
  • Wow. It’s still snowing.
  • When is it going to stop?
  • Guess I’ll ride the trainer for the 4th day in a row.
  • Ugh this needs to stop.
  • It stopped…and now it’s frozen.
  • Back on the trainer.
  • A week later and it’s still frozen.
  • More trainer. More intervals while it snows. Again.
  • A month later and it’s still frozen.
  • Shit. Maybe I should pick up splitboarding.
  • I bought a splitboard!
  • It’s still frozen/snowing/snaining. Splitboarding is fun!
  • I miss my bike.
  • The trainer is not my bike.
  • I’ll ride my road bike!
  • Road biking is terrifying!
  • Back on the trainer.
  • My feet are blistered from touring and now bleeding on the trainer.
  • When is this going to melt?!
The few times I have ridden on actual dirt have been…sloppy.

This is like a really long form of weather-grieving. I’m not sure what stage I’m in. Looking at the forecast gives me hope. It says next Monday will be 63 degrees. Dear God that’s bikini weather! Reality is, this training program has been hard to decipher the last six weeks due to unprecedented snow and freezing in Bellingham. We, quite simply, don’t get this kind of weather here and we don’t ever really plan for it. So as a collective, mountain bikers are going batshit crazy trying to figure out how and where to ride.

As the snow does slowly melt, what’s left behind is virtual minefield of slop and damaged trail. Hoar frost six inches thick has completely uprooted our fragile soil. Mud with the consistency of peanut butter is inches deep as snow continues to drain and soften the earth. The first hint of dirt is exciting, but a false positive. The trails are so damaged that they need time, and patient Lacy is champing at the bit to ride. Regardless of how much I want to pedal on that dirt, I know that riding will only make things worse and continue to further damage the trails.

So at the advice of many of you and my friends that constantly nag me about not partaking in “real winter sports,” I went out and blew my bank account on a touring set up so I can splitboard. Skinning uphill isn’t too different from pedaling, so I’ve just been embracing the beauty of the cold sunny days in the mountains, pretending that I enjoy it as much as I do riding my bike. I may have fooled myself for a while, but deep down my need for loam lingers strong and I have zero standard to compare my fitness to on snow.

Am I doing it right?

Spencer understands the challenges of the weather, so he’s tried to accommodate all of his clients as much as possible. He’s not just the trainer here, either. He has a pretty full calendar of events he’s also trying to train for, so we’ve had several chats about just how to deal with this conundrum. It’s not just as simple as “switch sports and enjoy the winter.” He’s devised a bit of a work around for me. Since sitting on the trainer for four consecutive days can start to be pretty arduous, he’s now made my program more flexible. There aren’t hard dates or deadlines for anything. Instead it’s pack in more endurance when I can. Do intervals as prescribed on days that make the most sense. Stretch. A lot. Eat well and eat enough. Most of all he’s reiterated to me so many times how important it is that I am having fun. He’s written in splitboarding days as part of my training because I don’t care what anyone says, skinning is freaking hard!

Still, splitboarding isn’t biking, and it’s really hard to judge my growth from spinning on a trainer or even riding a road bike. Mountain biking is just so unique with it’s constant undulation and need for fast-twitch responses, so when people ask me if this program is working, I honestly don’t have a good response for them. I’m sure I’ve gotten stronger in some capacity, since I’ve been diligent with my workouts, but I haven’t been able to put it to the test since my last big ride January. I’m clinging to a bunch of intangibles and the knowledge that I’ve put in the work. The physical part has been the easy part. The mental part has been the hardest for me. Struggling to stay motivated through the last six weeks has been a test of patience and stamina. Telling myself I’m getting stronger with no proof of said improvement is a mind game that I have to play to move forward. It’s been a test of mental mettle.

It snowed at my house again this morning. I cursed Ullr for his constant mockery of the impending spring. But all is not lost. The forecast is promising. The snow will melt. We’ll all pull our pasty bodies out of the shadows and experience dirt again soon. It’s almost harder as the sun is out longer and the temperatures warm up and we still can’t ride. It’s a giant tease. I guess I’ll take this time to do one or two more trainer workouts, clean my bike and get it all ready to be caked in mud for the weekend.

The countdown is officially on…