Riding Backward

A good friend of mine has been missing from our club rides lately. When I ran into him recently, he said he had just become bored with riding the same old routes.

It’s true — because of our location on the southwest side of the city, we’re limited in our options for getting out and exploring different areas. Mostly, we head south or southeast. Going north toward downtown is problematic, because we’re blocked by freeways and a rugged creek valley. Going west — well, there just aren’t a lot of roads in that direction. So we wind up riding the same set of routes over and over.

That carries over into my solo rides, as well. There might be more variations possible over 20 miles compared to 40, if I’m willing to try different residential streets just to mix things up. But riding in a more restricted area becomes predictable pretty quickly.

But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found a way that breaks up the routine — at least for me. I ride backwards.

No, I haven’t mastered a circus rider’s trick of actually mounting the bike backwards and pedaling that way. I’ve broken up my routine by changing the direction in which I ride my usual routes. I reverse direction.

Take Sunday’s ride. It goes through a nice neighborhood that has its own ring road. I ride along a major arterial until I can enter the neighborhood at a stop lighted intersection. Then, I ride the ring road in a counterclockwise direction. It’s about four miles in all, much of it in a bike lane, but almost all of it on wide, smooth roads.

But I was with a group I don’t often ride with Sunday, and they entered the neighborhood via the back door, so to speak — a little two-lane street that feeds into the ring road. Then, we rode the ring in a clockwise direction. One thing that became clear riding this way is that the four miles is just enough downhill to make it quick and entertaining.

One of the guys in our group was surprised when I told him I ride in the opposite direction. His routine is to always ride it clockwise. He said he’d have to try it my way sometime.

Then, this morning I went out for a 20-or-so mile ride. I did a version of my Friday evening route — but I decided to ride the whole thing in the opposite direction. Instead of finishing up with a couple of laps on the Veloway, I started there. Then, I rode through a residential area to a decent hill that I usually come down. This time, I went up it. It’s not all that tough, and I was able to do some intervals on the hill.

Maybe this doesn’t sound like that big a deal to you. Maybe you already do this as a matter of course. Well, I’m often slow in catching on to these types of things. But if you’re in a riding rut, try reversing your routes. It might be just the thing to snap you out of it.


    • says

      I will do that for organized rides, and even the occasional off-the-reservation club ride. Don’t have the time or interest to do that during the week.

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