My studly boyfriend went for a ride in the snow (I just learned that he reads my blog)…for a night ride. Maybe it’s better not to see the ice coming, but boy does it smart when you fall down in the cold.

He was able to coerce two others into joining him. Craig enjoys crashing on ice, so I’m sure he was one of them.

In a few minutes I will have to hustle out to the woodpile to keep the house warm, and I don’t even want to do that. I have had absolutely no desire to ride this winter, and I’m a little ashamed.

As I sit bundled in front of the heat, a blanket wrapped around my three layers of silk and wool, the ghost of Christmas past appears, ringing a bike bell…she takes me to the year of the blizzards, which dumped two feet of snow clear north through Ohio. Was it 2002?

Twas’ the night before Christmas when we began our vigil before the weather channel, trying to determine whether this would be the first year that he would not see his mother, The Sugar Plum Queen, for Christmas. It was also the first time I would be spending Christmas there…I had spent the last ten years doing Christmas on skis or in a tent somewhere.

While he fretted over the highway cams, I prayed for more snow. He paced and analyzed while I patted his back telling him that it was going to be okay, and that spending 20 hours to get somewhere just to stay 12 hours, wasn’t really worth the trauma. And of course what mama wants her boy to risk his life just to come home for Christmas? Ok, probably every one of them, really. What I told him is, “I’ll do whatever you want. It’ll be an adventure.”

We got up at 5 a.m. to give the highway cams and the weather channel one more glance before making a final decision. It was then that I convinced him that we needed to stay. We giggled at the decision, hopped back in bed, and when we awoke again, added booze to our coffee and ate donuts by the woodstove. It was in this moment of glee that we also called Craig and Scott to join us on a snowy, Christmas Day adventure via mountain bike.

It was at this moment, with donut glaze stuck to my drunken smile that Ben said, “Wait a MINUTE. You didn’t even PACK.”

Well, the relationship was young, so my shocked look of guilt did not turn the day into a wall of stony silence. Instead, we rode our bikes. We left the house wearing absolutely all of our riding gear, and stuffed our packs with food that would burn through our systems every 20 minutes as we tried to stay warm. We climbed Town Mountain Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway and ducked into single track here and there, surprised at the number of people on the trails that we had expected to find desolate. The Parkway is always a delight in the winter when it’s closed to autos.

We spent entirely too long in the woods, which made the descent down Town Mountain, at dusk, a miserably cold experience, especially for Scott, who lacked body fat. It’s a ride like this when you relentlessly argue with yourself about whether it’s better to suffer and go as fast as you can through the freezing wind, or ride slowly and stay out in the cold longer. I prefer ultimate misery in short bursts, so I busted butt home and hoped they were all right.

The only thing you can do at this point, is build the fire bigger, eat continuously, and start drinking.

The Ghost of Christmas past rings me back into reality, shaking her head at how pathetic I’ve become and hands me a pair of wool tights and a balacava.