The other day, I was all geared up for a ride. It was a beautiful day in Central Texas, and the road was calling. But my wife had other ideas.
“We need to leave for the tile store at 10 a.m.,” she said. “So I think you should forget about a ride for today.”
“It’s only 8,” I responded. “Tell you what. I’ll go for a ride, but I won’t be gone for more than one hour.”
“See that you’re not,” she replied.
I knew I’d be back on time. I had the route fixed in my head. It’s a nice route through our neighborhood, which means it runs primarily on suburban arterials, which aren’t very busy once morning rush hour is over. I pumped up my tires and headed out.
The first mile runs me down to the Starbucks, where our club rides begin. After sitting through a traffic light and crossing the busy road, I’m on a gentle upslope for about a half mile. Then, it’s a right turn at the top of the hill.
Another mile and a half brings me to another right turn. This road is one that leads out of our subdivision. It’s relatively new, because the houses along this stretch have been built only in the last five years or so. It’s also nice and wide, with a generous bike lane. I have the option to branch off the road onto some residential loops, but passed them up this day.
A little over four miles into the ride, I reach the notorious 1826. It’s a road for bikers to avoid, because it’s twisty, hilly, and narrow, with no bike lane, and traffic that screams along at 65 mph. We often fantasize about what a great biking road it would be, if only we could count on no traffic.
Anyhow, I make a U-turn there, and double back a way. Then, I’m in a different part of the subdivision. With a prevailing wind from the southeast in these parts, I’m pushed along in the high 20’s for awhile. Then, a right turn, and I’m more or less against the wind again.
But now I have a nice downhill. It’s not a big one, but the road here is especially wide, with very little traffic. At the bottom of the hill, I’m often approaching 35 mph as I ease over to the center of the road and hope there will be no cross traffic (and if there is, that it will stop at the stop sign, and let me go by). Once, a couple of years ago, a car decided to pull out in front of me as I approached the intersection. I did my best emergency stop, kept the bike under control, and when the driver saw me bearing down on him, he slammed on his brakes. I got by unscathed.
Now, another jaunt through some routine residential streets. At an elementary school, I take a right turn. Within a half mile, I find myself at Austin’s Veloway. One lap around the three-mile track, and I can head home — another three miles.
I arrived in our driveway in plenty of time, and could shower and change well within the 10 a.m. deadline. The nice part about this ride is that it comes out to almost exactly 15 miles, so if my goal is to complete it in one hour, I have to push a bit in some spots. So in addition to being a nice one-hour ride, it’s also a good workout. I can work intervals or fartlek into the ride with no trouble at all.
Some days, I just don’t want to spend more than an hour in the saddle. When that happens, I know I’ve got just the ride.