By John Herrick
Today, some of us woke up to sound of the plow scraping down the
street. Instantly, the plan for a five-hour day reduces to a two-hour
day. Then you look out the window and see that the trees hang heavy
with snow, the roads are flooded with a dark salty slush and cars spit
what mess is left on the roads onto the shoulder. Now you think rest
For us northernmost collegiate cyclists, this sequence is an
unpredictable routine. During the winter, we have three options: the
gym, rollers, or coffee and riding outside before more coffee.
Because staring at the wall or freezing is not always fun, some of us
hit the grunt box. During my limited time in the gym, I got to see a
unique component of testosterone-laden athleticism foreign to many
cyclists. I learned that the mirror is not used for checking posture
or technique, one rep is not a weakness but rather the bravery to lift
more than you know you can, girls do cardio and others do their
homework, people can get really big, and people can get really hurt.
Actually though, these people have a better understanding of what they
are doing with that equipment than I do.
The rollers are not bad if you have a 10,000-watt stereo system and 20
years of cobbled classics on your hard drive. Matt Buckley, UVM
Cycling alumnus, is currently testing a new interval training
philosophy coined “Paris-Roubaix Intervals.” You ride your hardest
gear on the secteur pavé and play with your phone on the pavement.
Five minutes full gas across Touée d’Arenberg, ten kilometers of
texting, and then hammer from Hornaing to Wandignies. You get the
However, some of us put on a base layer, and another, a jacket, a
vest, a coat and another vest to brave the outdoors. Winter riding
means that you are tired of Roubaix. It means that when your
derailleur freezes, you stop to pee all over it, you desperately chew
on your salt and grit-covered ice bottles, you do not eat because you
fear your teeth will shatter against your frozen candy bar and you
ride an extra hour because you know that thawing hurts more than being
cold. Basically, it means that you believe you are tough until you stand
crying in the shower.
Winter can be hard. However, we keep our eyes on the prize: the
Rutgers Prologue – the most prestigious five minutes of early morning,
cross-eyed, and practically UCI-prohibited caffeine-induced collegiate
glory. With this in mind, winter is easy.