By Kurt Gensheimer
The leaves are off the trees, the sun is setting before you get home from work and the biting cold forces winter jackets from the depths of your closet. But for most people who live in California, it’s not really winter; at least according to the millions of other poor bastards who are plowing three feet of snow from their driveway while the thermometer reads 20 below.
While most of America is preparing for a deep, dark winter filled with frozen pipes, icy sidewalk injuries, mild frostbite, marathon snow shoveling sessions and weeks without seeing the sun, many Californians will go about their lives in glorious ignorant bliss riding bikes, hiking, kayaking, climbing and Twain knows what else – completely oblivious to the notion of what a ‘real’ winter is like.
So before you complain to your friend that “Oh my God, it’s only a high of 50 today with a chance of showers”, think of the poor schlub in Duluth, Minnesota dressed like a Nanook who’s chipping away at five-foot long icicles growing from the eaves of his roof. If he heard you complaining about a high of 50 degrees, he’d break off one of those icicles and stab it in your ear.
When I used to live in San Diego, nothing annoyed me more than hearing locals complain about the weather; it’s like complaining about eating a cookie. I don’t care how bad you think the cookie is, it’s still a cookie. It could be a lot worse. You could be eating pig liver.
The winter weather in California – especially along the coastal regions – is about as good as it gets anywhere in the entire world. No matter how bad you think it might be, it’s still good enough to get out on your bike and ride. As my friend Jeff always says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” Put the rollers and turbo trainer in the closet, stock up on some Gore-Tex equipped clothing and shoes, a pair of fenders and hit the road.
Even if you’re in a place like the Sierra that see some serious cold and snow, new fangled inventions like the oh-so-trendy “fat bike” make mountain biking in the pow-pow a whole new experience. With tires as wide as four inches and pressures as low as 5 psi, fat bikes extend the riding season longer than ever before imagined. And when stream and creek beds freeze over completely – congratulations boss – you just got yourself a brand new trail to go and ride.
Want to really appreciate how great the winter riding is here in California? Take a trip to the East Coast some time and do a cyclocross race. The pelting rain, paralyzing mud, black ice and gale-driven snow – all in one race – will completely freeze your extremities and reduce you to a shivering, sniveling heap of mud-caked misery. Suddenly that high of only 50 degrees with a chance of showers will seem like paradise.
So this winter, take full advantage of living in one of the best climates in the world. Get out and ride.
The Angry Singlespeeder, AKA KurtGensheimer, is a syndicated mountain biking columnist. Look for his contributions in future issues of ASJ and on our website.