Winter is Coming

Winter. For most of the US that word means putting on layers of clothes, scraping ice and snow
off of the car before driving to work on salted roads, and placing the bike in a seasonal
hibernation of sorts, only to be admired as one walks by and longs for the thawing of the
trails. For some, winter brings with it great fun, especially for those who like to play in the snow whether on skis, snowboards or just riding a sled. For others winter is a dark, dreaded time of year used predominantly to catch up on missed television shows while sitting on the couch under layers of blankets.  Ahh, but for us in Florida, winter means something different.

Normally this is my favorite time of year to be on a bike. No yellow flies mixed with 90% 
humidity. No forest floor covered with poison ivy and filled with tics. Instead it’s weather that
makes me feel like I can ride all day and brings a smile to my face. However, this winter has
been a little different. It’s the year of memes saying “Welcome to winter Florida” or ones that
portray Floridians as the cowardly lion in the face of temperatures below 32. And yes, here in
Tallahassee we had snow! Enough snow that we had a snow day and school was cancelled! My
family and I played in the snow…in Florida.

So this made training with the Red Hills Composite Team a little interesting on our first week
back to school. We missed one practice due to the snow day, and the following practice I
decided we train indoors. Now we are a first year team with a modest budget. So no indoor
trainers or spin bikes. I have a room at school with some mats so we performed a core routine. 
This was quite the experience for all of us! As I am a new coach this was my first time leading a
practice performing core exercises. The plan was to go through 9 exercises twice. We made it
but this was definitely a first for the team. I’m just glad we had the mats with all the falling we

Then we did our Saturday ride. Another fact of being a Floridian is that none of us, unless you
are a skier, has real cold weather clothing. So we looked like a hodgepodge of cold weather
clothing that found its way on our backs from the very back of every closet. But we had fun. We rode on a technical trail at a slow pace. I wanted the athletes to experience a trail with some obstacles as well as numerous turns and roots that are the norm on many Florida trails. This was the first time I really challenged the team and they persevered! I know they wanted to stop before the ride was finished but they pushed through and best of all, they motivated each other. It really is a great thing to hear the kids cheer each other on. What I learned about our winter training so far is this: have fun, challenge each other, support each other and buy a pair of insulated gloves! 

Maxwell Gledhill