Facing the Winter Commute with a Win Win Attitude

5:45 AM

I did not go into this winter thinking I would stick with the bike commute.  I know there are hearty Minnesotans who are able to continue commuting by bike through the cold temperatures (-20 air temperature, -40 wind chill), but I am also fully aware of my own temperature limitations.  Given that my commute takes me about 25 minutes, I placed zero degrees as my dividing line between sucking it up and asking for a ride.  Any colder than that and I cannot maintain blood flow in my hands and feet.
With zero as my lower limit I stepped off the bike in early December, didn’t ride it at all in January, and only got in five days of commuting in February.  Given that local schools have called off classes six times during the past two months, I’m feeling lucky that I’ve ridden into work at all.
Still, I’m just about at my limit.  I’m sick of waiting around for my ride - while sharing a car may make economic and environmental sense, it is a pain in the butt every once in a while - and I’ve found I feel safer biking on the icy streets of Saint Paul with my studded tires than sliding around in a car.  Plus, I swear I can actually feel my muscles atrophying with every passing day...I need my commute to build up my legs for spring riding.   
It is time to take action.  It is time to psych myself up for getting back into the commuting routine - packing the bag the night before, cleaning the bike, organizing the outfits and food - just get out there on the road.
Though it may be corny, I’m taking my inspiration from the movie “Win Win” (aside: rent it - it is a good flick).  In the film the wrestling coach encourages a young prodigy to share his winning move with the team.  The kid confusedly tries to explain his move to the other boys, “Well, it’s not a move or anything, I just tell myself that the guy on top is going to take my head and shove it under water and kill me.  And if I don’t want to die on the bottom, I just gotta do whatever the f**k it takes to get out.”  The kid’s signature move now has a name: Whatever the F**k it Takes.
This is now my mantra for the rest of winter riding - whatever it takes, I’m going to get out there on my bike.  Getting back into the commute is about more than just getting back into shape.  Biking helps me arrive at work more relaxed and give me a chance to wheel away any lingering stress in the afternoon.  In terms of mindfulness it keeps me held within the moment as I navigate traffic, balance my body, and control my machine.  It is my daily check-in with the natural world.  It is my daily check-in with myself.  

Whatever the f**k it takes.

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