In winter, you have to keep your eyes open. The reasons to ride can be hard to find, like forage for small animals. Mostly you operate on the faith that riding through the cold and snow, the slush and ice, the sand and salt, will have a real payoff, even if you’re not always sure, as you step out into another icy morning wind, exactly when that payoff will come.
What happens is that you suffer. The wind chaps your cheeks. You get wet in ways you never thought possible, and you arrive on the other side, sometimes unclear on whether what you just did was brave or stupid.
Of course, sometimes, somewhere out on the road or trail, you get one of those transcendent moments that repays your faith, that spurs you on to ride another wind swept winter day. Maybe it’s just the tranquility of finding yourself out in the woods, maybe on the edge of a frozen pond where the trees stir in the breeze and the world slows down, or else it’s on the road with friends and someone has a good joke and you ride fast on the laughter for a mile or two.
We usually find that, as on the bike so on the shop floor. It is impossible to maintain 100% motivation year-round. Where inspiration can vary, we create systems and redundancies to be sure we are bringing the maximum attention to detail. When one of us is lit up with inspiration, the others can catch it like a cold. We pass it around and thrive off it.
But also, you never know when you’re going to paint a bike that comes out better than you ever would have hoped just looking at the scheme on paper. You never know when someone is going to build up one of your bikes in the most thoroughly beautiful way and send you a stunning photo and thank you for what you’ve done for them.
You have to keep your eyes open for these things in wintertime, or really any time, even as you have great faith in the bike as a tool and as a way of expressing your craft. This is how we stay motivated.