Revisiting the Short Ride

From time to time, I’ll dip into the Bike Noob archives and rerun a post from aeons past — or in this case, three years. I was going to write about today’s ride with my wife, but realized that it would have been almost an exact duplicate of this old post, and since we’re in the middle of packing for a vacation, I thought I’d save myself some effort. But I did tag on a bit of new info toward the end.

My wife has a favorite ride in the neighborhood. It’s only a nine-mile out and back route. It features a long, mild uphill on the way out and a fast fun descent — really a slight downhill incline — for much of the way back. It takes her anywhere from 40-45 minutes to finish it.

I ride it a lot with her. Sometimes, there’s a time crunch, and that’s about all I can fit in. Other times, I’d just as soon do a ride with her as go off on my own. I can’t call it a favorite ride of mine, because it’s not challenging, and in my mind, it’s too short.

But short or not, it’s a bike ride.

My friends over on Bike Forums were discussing this point earlier this week. It seems a lot of them have the same reaction I did: If the ride lasts less than an hour, it’s not a “real” ride. But one old-timer jumped in to point out that a ride is a ride, and regardless of length you will get some physical benefits from it — and the mental benefits might be better.

“Besides,” he added, “just by being out there puts you way above average for your age group.” (This post was on the 50-plus forum.)

We did the ride the other morning. It’s been really humid around here lately, but we’ll put up with that if an early start means we get to finish well before the 100-degree temps we’ve been having kick in.

The first mild incline takes us to the cross street where we turn right. I usually pull over and wait for Pat here, but this time, she was less than 100 feet back. I led her out to the dip into the dry creek bed, then the long incline coming out of it. I got to the end of the street over a mile farther on, and waited at the curb for her to catch me.

She led me around the corner onto a broad new street in a recently-build subdivision. The street ends at a T-intersection with a busy road. We make our turnaround there. We stopped so Pat could take a business call on her cell phone.

On the return leg, I kick it into overdrive for the long downhill. It’s a fun part of the ride for me, and I don’t hold back. Pat trails me by quite a distance here, and I wait for her before we have to make a left turn at a stoplight.

We’ve got one more nice mild downhill and one longish mild uphill in the last two miles of the trip. That uphill is what Strava calls the “HEB Escarpment” segment, because it goes up Escarpment Blvd. past the HEB supermarket. Two days after setting a personal best on that stretch, I got another one today — and not just by a little. I bested the previous mark by a full 10 seconds! I think when I come back from vacay, I’m going to have to really test myself on some of the tougher hills around here.

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