When I joined my cycling club way back in 2008, one of the things that attracted me to it was that it was based right in the neighborhood. For our Sunday morning rides, I hop on the bike at home and ride exactly one mile to a Starbucks where we gather before setting out. If I’m not riding with the club, I have a repertoire of six different rides from my front door, so I’m never riding over the same ground on successive rides.
But every once in awhile, I get the hankering to ride somewhere new and different. So I’ll throw the bike in the back of the SUV and hit the highway. It’s usually worth it. Two weeks ago, I drove 30 miles to ride with a small group on country roads that I don’t get to experience often — precisely because they’re 30 miles away. The ride was great, even if I did tackle that iffy downhill I wrote about two posts ago.
I also like to do rides with the Austin Cycling Association, and they start from a variety of places. Some are even farther than 30 miles from the house. So I’m driving to those rides, too. Any organized rides I do involve driving to the start.
Unloading the vehicles before an organized ride.
Usually, it’s worth it. Every now and then I wind up with a clinker, like the one last weekend where I drove 30 miles again — in the other direction — but wound up on a ride that traveled busy suburban streets. A lot of folks seemed to like it, but if I’m going to drive to a ride, I want to wind up out in the country.
Sometimes, I read about bikers who bike to their rides — and that can involve an extra 25 miles. One way. So when the ride is over, they’ve still got another 25 miles to go home. That’s certainly in the spirit of biking. It’s using the bike as an alternate form of transportation, and mixes the utility and the sporting uses of biking. Most of my fellow club members ride farther than I do to get to Starbucks. Some come five miles or more.
So while I will happily drive to a ride, sometimes I feel a little conflicted by doing so. We’re using fossil fuels in pursuit of a recreational activity that makes use of human power. Somehow it doesn’t seem right. Or logical. Or something.
But I enjoy the different cycling locales I visit. I know my enjoyment of cycling has been heightened by discovering a new route that I might return to every so often. I think I can say with certainty that I will continue to burn gas to get to the start of some rides.
How about you? Thoughts?