Finding the Fun

by Mary Bardell

Words and photos by Taylor Weichman

Fresh powder finally fell in Madison, WI last night. For those who have experienced riding in fresh powder, you know there are two good places to be in the series of riders on the trail. You can be first, cutting fresh tracks on the trail, and having a slight sense of superiority over those others who haven’t finished shoveling yet… Or you can be tenth or later, where are enough tracks laid down to mimic a good groom and you can power through.

Today, I was third. Damn it. There’s just enough powder to pull you off course, and the tracks that have been set aren’t established enough. It’s easy to get frustrated on a day like today. Hopes for mind-clearing, lung-punching miles on fresh powder slip away as you fall or lose the track on every turn. I was pretty close to cutting my losses and going home. I had already taken my nutrition (Little Debbie Star Crunch) so I kind of needed these miles, but I was downtrodden, feeling defeated.

The last couple of years, by my sisters’ encouragement on New Year’s Day, each member of our family selected a word to give guidance to their year. Maybe it’s a change you want to make, or be more consistent, or what have you. It’s a nice tradition, maybe a bit of a fad at the moment, but we like it, so we do it. This year, my word is “choose.” Most people who know me would describe me as low-key, mostly even-keeled, and I can roll with most punches. But I think that was my frustration. I was only reacting after getting punched. So this year, I’m choosing. I’m deliberately choosing how I spend my time, what I eat (healthy or not), what I read, and so on. I don’t think of it all the time when I make decisions, but it’s useful to have a reference sometimes, especially in times of indecision or the doldrums.

So back to today: I was going to turn around. I was kinda pissed, kinda bummed; you know how frustration can take you over if you let it. But then I hit a piece of trail I had already ridden. Because I had already been there, the track had improved. Then I met a couple going the opposite way on the trail. Their fat tires made the track even better. And the ham-fisted metaphor hit me in the face. Sometimes, you gotta take a couple laps before it gets better. Sometimes you need friends there to knock some of the snow down (metaphorical or not). Not to mention, fat bikers across the world are notoriously weirdly friendly, so seeing others out there instantly picks up your mood. We’re just having fun. Sometimes we need to work out the frustration before the fun arrives, but it’s there, just waiting to emerge. Today, I'm choosing to push through to find the fun.

15* temps, and 10mph winds equals a feel of 2*F. That’s pretty stinkin’ cold. I’ve got lots of creature comforts on my bike to keep me going even on frigid days, two of them being the Icon v2 layered over a Front Range Merino sweatshirt, over a good base layer. 3 hours on trail and I didn’t feel cold, except for when I dumped into the snow. All good. I found the fun. Go find yours.