I’m on break from academics for another week and a half, and that means I’ve been able to get some rides in on routes that I seldom, if ever, have traveled before. I’ve been out in the Hill Country, over some roads I haven’t seen in a couple of years; I’ve been on the back roads down to my university, and some other spots as well.
There’s nothing like the enjoyment of getting out and seeing new places.
I say this, because once I’m back in my September-May routine at school, my riding becomes rather predictable. I skip Mondays. On Tuesdays, I can get home early enough to do a quick hour ride before dinner. So I go over to the Veloway and knock off three fast laps. That’s a 15-mile ride.
Wednesday and Thursday see me tied up late at work, so I don’t ride. On Friday, I will either come home a little early, or sometimes not go in to campus at all, since none of my classes meets that day. I have dubbed the ride I do on Fridays the “Friday Niter.” It takes me through our suburban-style neighborhood to a turnaround spot about four-and-a-half miles out, then though more residential streets to a nice hill. I fly down the hill, brake hard at the bottom, and turn around the block to climb a hill on an adjoining street. That hill gets repeated twice, and if I’m not warmed up when I’m finished there, I won’t get warmed up. Then, I fly down the hill once more, usually hitting my high speed of the day, and work my way over to the Veloway, where I put in two moderately-paced laps before heading home. It comes out to 19.2 miles.
Saturday morning, I try to get going by eight and head up to Convict Hill. With any luck, I’m meet my friend David on the way, and we’ll climb the main road up the hill, then work some side streets with a couple of short, steep bursts of their own before we zoom back down the hill and ride another three miles or so out to the Mopac loop. We usually hit some tough headwinds coming back on that one, but if things work out, we can achieve some decent speeds through there as well. Then it’s one lap at the Veloway for good measure. By the time I reach my driveway, I’ve gone 27.5 miles.
Sundays are club ride days, and most of the time, I make them. We have a rotation of routes at our disposal there, too, from 30-60 miles or so. We mix up the routes, so they’re n0t always the same, but they come around often enough that they become routine, as well.
Now, I’m not knocking routines. Most of these routes provide enough variety close to home that they continue to entertain. Besides, we’re on our bikes, right? But it’s good to break away from routines and explore new areas. And that’s what I’ve tried to do during my break.
But this morning when I threw my leg over the top tube, I had no plan for the day’s ride. And it occurred to me that I had an option right at my fingertips — the Friday Niter! Yes, even though it was Thursday. I set out on the familiar route, did the whole thing at a slightly faster speed than usual, and threw in an extra lap around the Veloway — just for good measure.
At the end, I felt exhilarated and a bit short of breath because of the effort I’d put in. But it’s going to get me prepped for the longer weekend rides, and I think on Sunday I’ll be seeing some more roads I haven’t ridden in a couple of years.
Variety is nice — but your routine routes can be a comfort.