Snow to Road

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By David Ward — We finished 7.5 miles of cross-country skiing around the Brimstone and Antelope Loop trails, had finished our dinner and were relaxing in front of the fire playing a game of Quiddler. It was then I recalled I needed to write my article for this year’s first issue of Cycling Utah. Bicycling, I thought? But I am still in the midst of my winter mode.

David Ward enjoying a cross country ski outing near Island Park, Idaho over President's Day weekend, 2016. Photo by Jerry Allred

In the Intermountain West, we have the luxury of four truly distinct seasons: Spring, as we and our surroundings emerge from the blanket of snow and cold that has been enveloping us; summer, to luxuriate and sweat in the sun and heat; fall, as the leaves turn brilliant colors and we scent the approaching winter; and winter, where we can choose to either hibernate or engage in the activities that make winter a sensational season.

Frankly, I have always loved winter best. I was raised on a dairy, and summers usually meant days, including Saturdays, washing bottles and bottling milk (in addition to fixing fence, digging out ditches and cutting thistle). But winters meant skiing. Sure, I had school Monday through Friday, but that was only to get me to Saturdays when we would arise very early, get our day’s work done, and by 8 – 9 a.m., be on our way to the local ski area.

I distinctly remember 3rd grade. Our classroom was on the east side of the school, and I could see the mountains out the window. I would spend long periods of time just gazing at the mountains, gauging the snow fall, and looking forward to Saturdays.

My love of skiing and winter became so intense, that in my teens I decided there was no way I could take two years of my life to serve as a missionary for my church when I turned 19. For a good Mormon boy, that was heresy.

Well, I matured, thankfully and, also thankfully, did my missionary service. But my love of winter and skiing persisted, and the rest of the year was really just filler between winters and ski season. Until, that is, I took up cycling.

As a child, I biked a lot. I couldn’t drive, and living in the country meant long distances to get anywhere. My bike was my key to freedom and exploration. But as a teenager, that was replaced by a car. While serving my mission in France, though, a bicycle again became my main mode of transportation, and the fun of cycling returned.

In college, I bought a bicycle for transportation and recreation, and over time, cycling began to occupy a larger part of my life. A few years later, I learned that bike racing existed in Salt Lake, and thereafter training and racing filled the other three seasons of the year.

Karma Ward (right) and friends cross country skiing near Island Park, Idaho. Photo by David Ward

Now, I no longer spend the time between ski seasons pining for winter. I do not race anymore, but my love of cycling has endured, and those months between ski seasons are spent on the saddle of a bike. Still, spring brings an overlapping of the ski and biking seasons, and for me a tug of war. As winter begins to wain, and the smell of spring starts to freshen the air, I find myself torn between the call of my skis and board, and that of my bike.

Here it is late February, and already spring is springing. For several months, I have been biking indoors on a stationary bike to maintain fitness, and now the weather is drawing me outside. The itch to spend my Saturdays in the saddle is asserting itself, and I will soon be biking up and down my beloved Emigration Canyon. I will also be perusing Cycling Utah's Calendar of Events to plan out my biking season. Yes, biking season I nearly here, and the excitement of a new cycling season is upon me.

But, I will also still be gazing at the mountains, and feeling the urge to be at a ski area, stepping into my skis and strapping on my snowboard. The spring time struggle will be seething in my soul.

Though not really. Biking is a wonderful sport. It has brought me a lifetime of fitness, and has made the period between ski seasons another exciting season for me, cycling season. I now have two passions that span the entire year. But the spring struggle will always be won by my skis and board.

Skiing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and the love of winter is ingrained in my very nature. Bicycling is also now a part of my soul, but the spring time choice between hitting the slopes or the road will always be won by the slopes.

But make no mistake. I am feeling the urge to be on the bike, turning the pedals and enjoying the freshness and excitement of the outdoors as I ride my bicycle. I am excited for the upcoming cycling season, and while still on the slopes, will be looking forward to many months and miles on the road.

 

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