I am always amazed that on my first day of skiing every year, I’ve remembered how to make those delicious carved turns. One might think that after months of doing other sports, there would be an awkward transition back to skillfully sliding down a snowy slope. But that’s not true. Without fail, the muscle memory kicks in every year, and within the first two or three turns, I am thrilled by the speed and the ready availability of my skiing skills.
During this extra rainy winter of 2016-2017, I’ve ridden a couple hundred miles on my bicycle mounted on a trainer in the garage. We rode outside for the first time today, a sunny February weekend when we’d managed to resist the call of the Lake Tahoe slopes. Setting out, I was confident in my aerobic endurance. But early in the ride, I found myself thinking that a person needs more than muscle memory to get back in the saddle in the Great Outdoors. I was forced to recognize that my drafting and bike handling skills were slightly regressed. On the first two hills of significance, I totally blew my gear shifting. I knew that last year I’d come up with a special hill approach that helped me improve my times, but today I could not remember what that was.
So I must conclude that unlike my experience with skiing, when I set out for a early-season bike ride, besides recalling the muscle memory of the basic skills, I have to use my brain, too, because riding on streets and with other bikers requires a lot more strategic thinking and mid-ride planning.
Still, what a glorious day, and what a glorious way to get out and play! But you’ll find me on the ski slopes next weekend.