Over a Beer: Winter Is Here – Should I :) or :( ?

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We got dumped on during our second ride at the Scotland MTB Conference. Photo: Ross Bell

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

Despite how absolutely out of our control the seasons are, if there’s one thing that people love to either complain about or rave about, it’s the onset of winter.

Nobody complains about the beginning of spring or summer–no matter how much we may have enjoyed winter, by the end of it everybody is stoked for warmer temperatures and dry singletrack. But winter is another matter.

Winter is cold, even in the South. Most places it’s snowy, and it’s dark. Generally-speaking, winter can be downright unpleasant.

But there’s another subset of people who absolutely love the onset of winter! As the snow begins to pile up they wax their skis or snowboards, buy their season passes, and get ready for months of pow-slashing and snowy-mountain goodness.

Getting in deep at Monarch Mountain
Getting in deep at Monarch Mountain. Skier: Greg Heil. Photo: AJ Heil.

For many years, this is the camp I belonged to. I absolutely could not wait for ski season to arrive! All of the activities I dedicated time to during the spring, summer, and fall were there solely to distract me from the fact that there was no snow on the ground and ski season was a long way off.

But once ski season arrived, forget about doing anything else–forget about having any other priorities or spending time on anything else in life! Yes, the bare essentials like school, work, and church were accomplished, but every waking moment when the lifts were turning was spent out at the “Mound.” (Growing up in Wisconsin, we didn’t delude ourselves by referring to our ski area as a mountain… unlike some other Midwest ski areas.)

As mountain biking took over most of my time and eventually became my occupation, my relationship with winter changed. While I still loved skiing, the onslaught of the cold temps and the rainy season (in Georgia) or the snow (in Colorado) brought with it a mix of emotions. Despite the fact that I think fat biking is the most important revolution in mountain biking since ever, that doesn’t make it easy to work up the motivation to get outside and pedal when it’s below zero.

As I face yet another winter, I find myself wondering: am I excited that winter is here, or apprehensive? Am I 🙂 or 🙁 about this new season?

Why Bother Being Upset?

Photo: Michael Paul
Photo: Michael Paul

As I face my apprehension and try to determine exactly what I feel about this changing of the seasons, I had to ask myself: why am I bothering with being upset about this?

While the weather may be the number one thing that people love to gripe about (well, maybe number two after politics), unless you pick up and flee every time the seasons turn (which could be a valid approach), it seems to me that moaning about the cold temperatures and the white stuff on the ground is the biggest waste of time and emotional energy imaginable.

Let me ask you: what do you hope to accomplish by complaining about winter? Do you think the tilt of the Earth’s axis and its angle in relation to the sun give a rip that you’re frustrated about the temperature dropping? Do you think if you take to Facebook to voice your displeasure that your ranting will affect tomorrow’s weather patterns one iota?

Moving Forward

Silverton Mountain, Colorado. Photo: Greg Heil
Silverton Mountain, Colorado. Photo: Greg Heil

So this winter, however the weather affects my mountain biking, I’m choosing to accept it and be happy about the weather. I’m putting a 🙂 on my face because of the frigid temps and the accumulating snow.

The only productive things to focus on or give any emotional energy or willpower to are the things that we can control… and the weather isn’t one of them. Being upset about the changing of the seasons is absolutely futile, so I am instead going to focus on enjoying the unique opportunities that winter affords–like shredding powder!

It’s a whole new world out there–let’s throw on our coats and go out and enjoy it!

For more on the idea of finding pleasure in the circumstances in which you find yourself, be sure to listen to this podcast from The Art of Manliness, titled “The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Antidote to Excessive Irony.”

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