We've had unseasonably cold and wet conditions for the last few weeks, and that's meant that our local ski areas - which had a disastrous ski year last year - have opened earlier than the past 20 seasons, so we headed up to Stevens Pass yesterday. Warren Miller has long said that any day on skis beats any day sitting at a desk, but as I was sitting on skyline lift trying to shield myself from the 30 MPH blast of freezing rain scouring my face, I had moments of doubt. But with decent equipment, you can enjoy that sort of thing - in the same sense that once enjoys climbing the zoo.

Anyway, that got me thinking about the similarities between the skiing and cycling. And by "skiing", I mean "alpine skiing". Here's a list I came up with:

  • Rain bike = rock skis. Rather than postponing their activity, both cyclists and skiers maintain dedicated equipment to keep participating when conditions are less than desirable.
  • Snowboarders = drivers with cell phones. Neither of these groups are looking for you, they aren't very attentive in general, and there is ample reason to suspect that they don't know that you exist.
  • 40 mph descents
  • Quads
  • Titanium and carbon fiber. Improvements in both are driven by racing, where small changes can make big differences. And not only can amateurs buy gear that's as good as the pros, they can afford to do so. (Note that "afford" is a relative term)
  • Rigidity and flexibility, the ying and yang of both sports.
  • Tradition. The tour started 1903. The rules for the downhill race were developed in 1921.
  • Hahnenkamm = Alp d'Huez
  • Mountains (and Alps!)
  • Beer
  • 35 degrees and raining sucks