Probably at least a couple of my seven readers know that I enjoy cycling. I enjoy road biking, mountain biking, and commuting on my fixie. I love riding around the neighborhood with my children, and I enjoy working on (and teaching my children to work on) bicycles.
Last week, when I got home from being gone for a full week to two conferences, I realized that (considering it was January in Colorado) the weather couldn't be any better for going for a bike ride. It was shorts/two shirts/full-finger-gloves weather. I rode my standard one-hour, quick workout route.
In January, most folks seem to have put their bikes away until March or April, when it's warmed up just a bit. Last Thursday, I only passed a handful of other cyclists, when I would have passed at least three dozen on a slow day in summer.
This ride made me start thinking about who's out riding a bike in nasty weather. Most cyclists are game for fair weather riding, and some - the 'hardcore' cyclists - will go out adverse weather. It could be early spring mornings when the frost is still covering the ground, or maybe through the autumn rain and mud. The hardcore go out into the desert through sand and searing heat, or even through snow falling over the singletrack that no one else has been on for a month.
I used to think these were the hardcore cyclists, until I paid closer attention over the past week. The real hardcore cyclists are those who ride through the snow, over the icy streets, and are not kept inside by temperatures that range from the negative teens to the positive single digits. Mostly, these hardcore cyclists ride helmet-less and without spandex. They're on bikes that come from garage sales and big-box discount stores. Often, the bikes have squeaking brakes, flat tires, and many don't shift out of the one rusty gear where the chain finds itself. By and large, it turns out that the real hardcore cyclists, the ones who ride every day no matter what, tend to be temp workers, immigrant laborers, and transients ~ the people who don't have any other choice.
I don't know about you, but that gives me a new outlook on my fair-weather cycling habits.