Dang. Overnight lows in the low 20s last week, again. And after raining all day, turning to sleet turning to snow?

Cancel my reservation for that class at the gym.

Unfortunately, sitting around on my chilly rear with mug after mug of hot cocoa doesn’t contribute nearly as much to overall fitness as does a good, strenuous workout.

Brent, never deterred for long, pulled out our “Tucson Training Rides” DVD and plugged it in the spare room video player for a virtual ride in the Arizona desert. (This is a long-standing winter riding alternative, as I’ve described before.)

We turned down the heat, turned on the fan and hopped on our bikes to follow “Coach Troy.” The coach took us through a flat area for a warm-up period plagued only by heavy motor traffic. Then it was time to turn onto Gates Pass Road west of Tucson. Setting our gears for high resistance, we “climbed” up and up, laboring toward the top of the pass. Brent has ridden Gates Pass before, most recently in 2009.

“I like this video. Look, the sun is shining,” Brent said. I agreed despite the virtual cars that still passed us.

I grew hot and tired but didn’t even care because the gorgeous, familiar scenery so distracted me. The camera took us up hills and around curves, passing ocotillo, cholla and saguaros. Those weird-but-lovable plants made me downright homesick, even though we only lived in Arizona for eight years, back in the day.

“This road is sure nice,” I pointed out with a wistful sigh. Brent agreed.

The virtual road climbed more steeply. We stood out of the saddle for half a minute, both to increase heart rate and rest our rears. Finally we crested the pass, then the road tilted down. We shifted to easy gears to mimic a steep descent.

I checked my bike computer. “I’m pedaling at 130 RPM,” I bragged.

“Nice,” Brent said. “If we were really at Gates Pass we’d be going over 40 miles per hour about now.”

Before long we were enjoying rolling terrain near the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Motor traffic had dropped to nothing.

“If we lived in Tucson we could actually be riding out on this road,” I observed, “instead of hiding from a lot of snow and ice.” Brent agreed.

Neither of us talked much during the ridiculously steep climb back up Gates Pass. Several minutes and two out-of-the-saddle intervals later, we were flying back down the pass in easy gears.

“Let’s move to Tucson,” Brent said. Of course he was joking– at least, partly joking. A cross-country move wouldn’t fit into our lives right now, so forget it.

Two days later the sun finally came out. That virtual desert ride, along with a little dreaming, had provided the sanity break we needed to see us through cabin fever.

Do you ever have to “hunker down” for a long lesson in patience? What helps you cope? Tell me your tips in the comment space at the bottom of this post!

Thanks for reading!

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
This entry was posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories), Thoughts on Two Wheels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Snowbirds

  1. I ride my bike for long sessions on indoor rollers to cope with the winter here in Northern England, and the rise of the podcasts is what gets me through: comedy, science, cycling (of course), medieval history…you name it. I listen to all sorts whilst spinning the legs and keeping on top of the base fitness – love it!

    (Prefer the sunshine though…)


    • I used rollers for a long time, but am not graceful enough to make it work well. Podcasts, hm? I might have to resort to that. Our skies have been as grey as I imagine yours are, which is unusual for Texas.
      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. saraleeperel says:

    As always, I love your writing. I felt like I was “riding” along next to you with this one. Love you!


  3. jodyo70 says:

    Brilliant sanity break. Brilliant. I have done similar things before and God continues to amaze me how a drop of hope and (inside the heart) sunshine can go A LONG way….


    • I agree, inner sunshine can brighten my attitude as much as the outdoor stuff. We’re having a 1 1/2-day sunshine break before the next round of rain. At least some of our lakes are filling up. Thanks for the comment, and for your friendship!


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