I have said before that the only good reason not to ride a bicycle is because you don’t want to. Anything else is just an excuse. You have only to look at the lengths to which people go in order to ride a bike despite debilitating disease, missing limbs, small children, long commute distances, challenging terrain, and discouraging weather. They prove that if you want to ride a bike, you can.

I admire and even envy people who can show their love for bicycling by overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Not that I want small children or a debilitating disease, exactly. I make the most I can of discouraging weather to feed my ego. To be fair, in Missouri we have a decent amount of that.

Today put me to the test and I’m on shaky ground next to the folks I admire.

A couple weeks ago I suffered a cliché lower back injury from shoveling snow, which got better and then suddenly got worse. Much worse. At the same time, the shifter on my bike broke, making my bike effectively a single speed locked into high gear. If I were strong and healthy, I could power up the hills and stand in the pedals, but that wasn’t possible this morning.

I got out my daughter’s bike, which she isn’t riding right now because it’s too cold for her (and for most reasonable people). Her bike has a lower top tube than mine and I thought it might be easier to get my leg over it. Well, it might be easier, but still required some tricky balance while I hoisted my left leg up with my arms. I had to mount from the opposite side that I’m used to, because my right leg wouldn’t go up that high even with an assist.

Having done all that, I hadn’t thought to check the weather. I knew it was cold. I didn’t realize just how cold it was this morning. It was 7 °F.

When bicycling, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. With the proper equipment I could comfortably bike even at 7 °F. I rarely have the opportunity, so I haven’t invested in ultra cold weather gear. I realized my mistake when I was already halfway to work so I kept going.

Once my fingers thawed out, I cried “Uncle” and arranged for a ride home. By then, my back was feeling better, and it had warmed up almost to freezing.