To be a cyclist in the winter takes considerable creativity. At first, you just pile on more and more clothing as the mercury plummets, but it won’t work. You play games with yourself to survive; maybe your problems would be solved
with another wind layer, or perhaps you need to wear two hats? It’s a struggle to get through the fall, but finally, as you’re soaking your mottled-grey feet in lukewarm water, trying to bring them back to life after another frigid ride, you’ll admit it. It’s just too cold.
Thus begins the dreaded trainer time. A trainer is a medieval torture device which lifts the rear wheel of your bike off the ground to enable riding in place. It’s so psychologically taxing that the German National team used to spend hours riding in front of a brick wall for mental endurance. The trainer makes you forget everything that is enjoyable about bike riding, and as the concepts of speed, scenery, and movement all fade into stagnant air, you’ll inevitably succumb to apathy.
To cope you might devise elaborate challenges to go with the songs on your ipod or, if you’re me, you might experiment with different hairstyles. You might sing, or you might just stare dully at the wall, but nothing really works. Riding the trainer always sucks.
Therefore I usually just try to avoid trainer time as much as possible. If I can think of something to do outside or even at the gym to substitute the horrible, repetitive exercise in futility, I’ll try it. But this Saturday I rode the trainer gladly, because just this once it was for a good cause.
Toys for tots is an organization which originated in Los Angeles in 1947. Their objective is to collect and distribute toys to needy children in order to spread the joy of materialism. I love unwrapping toys as much as, if not more than, the next person, so I decided to help out with this year’s cycling club “Christmas Roll”, which benefits toys for tots.
To raise money for the charity, the cycling club (led by our illustrious captain, Scott Lipp) sets up our trainers in the mall- essentially sweating in public for hours in hopes of inspiring innocent shoppers to donate to the cause. You might not think that watching a bunch of scrawny kids pedal their bikes in place would be the best technique for getting peoples’ money, but for some reason it works. Maybe it’s the shiny sweat, the tight shorts, or the fact that a few of our members really seem to enjoy stripping their clothes off- whatever the reason, we raised over five hundred dollars this year.
More importantly, I could do plenty of people-watching to make a two-hour trainer workout fly by. I realized that while the speed, scenery, and movement were still missing, one of the things I love about bike riding had suddenly rematerialized- the people. I was astonished with the generosity and positivity those simple mallgoers could exude- and that made this weekend’s trainer time a little bit less brutal.