Being Existential in Gö – January 23 2023

Winter wetter (and cake) is an existential matter for any cyclist. What is the meaning of it all?

I was not to be a hostage to my angst and motivated by the company of Sandra and Andrea we rode a variation of the Gö Feldweg Omloop 40km.

Angst
The weather is a major matter for us cyclists and the winter is when my existential cycling thoughts are most keenly felt. During the winter we are required to endure the mud season, freezing rain or snow and frozen conditions, and these weather events induce question inside my head on whether to climb onto my bike or not. Should I listen to the devil (or is it an angel?) on my shoulder telling me to stay at home and that is my ´existential angst´?

Too Hot/Cold
The important thing about being too hot or too cold is that you can lose perspective and your judgement can be diminished.

The average body temperature for human beings is in the 36 to 37c range and if your body temperature falls or goes above that range then you are in trouble.

Windchill is your evil enemy in the winter and without it blowing you can surprise yourself by opting to ride in a temperature of minus 10 as I did in December 2022 (West Side Love of Mud Schnee Ride in Gö – December 17, 2022).

Recently I talked about the mud season, and I said that the climate here in Gö is a transition region between oceanic and continental weather making life interesting. For instance, in February 2021 the temperature in Göttingen rose by 41.9 °C from the low of −23.8 °C to the high of 18.1 °C in just a few days.

In the summer temperatures above 40 are not uncommon and like the winter the weather cannot be taken for granted. As the old Chinese curse says – ´may you live in interesting times´ and the weather here in Central Europe is certainly that.

When it is hot a mix of drinking regularly and resting in the shade works for me.

Weather Window
The winter emphasises that time is relative, gone are the long lazy days of summer. In the winter with its shorter day time hours the opportunity to ride our bikes in daylight free of rain, snow, windchill or gales etc. is further restricted – I and others spend much time watching the weather radar hoping for a true indication of a potential window of activity.

Rain
There are different ways of expressing rain, but it can be simply described as wet or WET!

The Death of Me
British author Jane Austin had a word for persistent light rain of the sort that lingers and hangs in the air making all wet– she called it Misling and woollen 18/19th Century clothes (And Pre-Lycra cycle wear) would get sodden, seep through to your skin and would seemingly never dry. In general, any rain or damp conditions would spark in Austin (et al) a fear of ´catching their deaths´, a common English expression. The Bronte sisters cite these fears in their novels especially the dangers of the damp moors of the North of England. I am not surprised to find that one of Göttingen hospital´s specialises in lung disorders because Misling can cloak Göttingen just as it did in Austin´s England.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Depression in the form of SAD is a known symptom of the short days of winter but why it happens is still not definitive.

The main thrust of thinking is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, this may reduce the production of melatonin, serotonin, and your circadian rhythm will play like an untuned piano.

Although easier said than done when depression pins you to the floor part of the treatment is to do exercise and to get out into the world letting the natural light work positively upon you.

The Ride – 32km
Despite the weather looking none too inviting (zero temperature) I was not held hostage by my existential angst, and motivated by the company of Sandra and Andrea I climbed upon my bike.

We rode a revised 40km Gö Feldweg Omloop with the track being mostly ridden upon farm asphalt and concrete roads. We avoided mud as much as possible because I am a little tired of washing my bike, and thus some muddy gravel was excluded. To balance this out we were able to add cobbles at Obernejsa because the single track there is no longer blockaded by trees and bushes.

Although I was no hostage this day, there are other days when I do listen to the devil in my ear. Afterall I´m not locked into some form of Stockholm Syndrome with a love of suffering.

As our toes became frosty, we opted to shorten the ride and despite it being a cold day it was fun to be out on our bikes surveying the snowy landscape with Andrea and Sandra.

Garmin Connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/10371423959
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8444028162

Slush and snow covered cobbles featured

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