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Chained in the basement

My bike, literally, is chained in the basement. Each unit in our building has a storage locker, but items like bicycles and grills sit in a common area. So, after a couple of thefts and doors being propped open once too often, we lock up the bikes in case they decide to wander off. Like an animal waiting to be uncaged, it hasn't seen the sun in months.

Occasionally unlocked for a ride in the trainer, there's the telltale dust of not being used growing on the frame. I know a few hardy souls have been biking in the outdoors--I've seen their messages on the cycle club's forum--but I'm not brave enough for the slick roads on two wheels. I got a great pair of cold-weather gloves for Christmas even. A new long-sleeve bike jersey. Can't wait!

But it's not actually the riding, I miss.

I miss waking up with the sun and clipping into my pedals before the neighborhood is awake. On the mornings I take shorter rides, the only traffic I encounter are the newspaper delivery vans. On longer rides, I usually get a few sleepy dog-walkers. Some old guys watering flowers in only their boxers. Maybe a few early dropoffs for daycare.

Slowly, the scenery goes from suburban to woods and then quiet that's only punctured by brief trail exits to cross roads. Mostly, where I ride traces a creek with forest preserve on your other side. Large picnic groves, prairie, and a golf course make up the rest. In the spring, there's a hilly, twisting section near a wetland full of hundreds of frogs all in chorus. Tiny, spotted deer carefully follow their mothers to munch on breakfast. Last season, an antlered buck crossed my path more than once. Heron stand in the shallow waters. Some mornings there's a fog...other mornings the mist is really insects and you learn the hard way to keep your mouth closed as you fly by at 20 mph. There are several canoe launches--one in particular is always home to a flock of geese. Woodpeckers echo.

Yes, I miss training. And going fast. And I miss the warmth of showing up on a humid summer evening to see if I can keep up with the group's ride-to-beat-the-dark-home. But, mostly, I miss spinning through miles of forest and around corners and up and down hills and feeling the sweat drip from under my helmet.

Come on summer.