Cycling - Sometimes It's About The Destination
I really love cycling. I'm not sure if I'm at the point in life where I can call myself a cyclist, or where others would refer to me as a cyclist, but what I do know is that labels aside, I love to get on my bike and ride. It can be a 10 mile ride that takes me less than an hour or it can be a 40 mile ride that takes a few, but either one makes me happy. I love racing cyclocross in the fall too, but that's a different article altogether.
Sometimes I really care about how fast I'm going, or how many revolutions I'm making in how much time, or how many miles I've covered, or calories burned, or any number of factoids that my bike gps spits out at any given moment. I can geek out when I get back home and upload data to my computer and virtually watch the path of my ride, seeing where I was putting out the most amount of effort and keeping track of elevation gain and loss. When it comes down to it, I can really take something as simple as riding a bike, and muck it up pretty good!
But every once in a while, I just get out and ride. I know this seems like an obvious statement, because people do it every day. Trust me, if you get the 'cycling' bug, and start listening to people around you, it can become serious business. However, on those days where I just head out, without a computer on my bike, without any real plan, and just go, I usually have a different kind of wonderful experience. I'm not so much concerned about how I get there, as where I'm going. I like to call these destination rides. And I don't always know where the destination is, but I'll know once I get there.
The picture above shows a ride that started out as a well intentioned training ride, but ended up as a destination ride. I was going to do a quick 30 mile loop, but halfway through I really lost heart for any kind of serious riding. It was colder than I thought, and I never really warmed up. I couldn't build up a good steam, and was getting frustrated as I looked at my computer and didn't see the numbers I wanted....so I turned it off. I started slowing down a bit, but not so much that I'd cool off completely, and just started riding along. I know all the rural roads around here well enough to find my way back should I head down one I'm not completely familiar with, and eventually ended up on a main road where this fruit stand is located.
As it turns out, I caught the stand on one of it's opening days. Lucky for me. I was still before 9 o'clock, but this fruit stand was offering fresh fruit shortcake, with ice cream, even though it was plenty chilly outside. At first I only ordered some coffee to warm up with, but eventually caved to as medium sized dessert as well, for my breakfast. By this point I probably had burned enough calories to swap out for the ice cream, but I really didn't care if I had or not, the treat was turning a mediocre training ride into a fabulous destination ride. I cruised home at a nice pace after that, thoroughly pleased with how the morning turned out.
I recently got to share one of my favorite destination rides with my 14 year old son who's just started cycling as well. It's a 40 mile loop -- 20 miles out, and 20 back-- with a tiny espresso shop in a tiny town, as the halfway point. I love heading out on cooler mornings because this shop has a fireplace inside, and I will take a decent little rest there, with a couple shots of espresso, maybe a shot of flavor if I'm feeling frisky, and warm back up before heading back. If I'm lucky, I've had a headwind there, so I can fly back. All it took was one trip with my son out there for him to be completely hooked. Now he wants to go there every weekend.
If you have a significant other, destination cycling is one of the best things you can discover together. Leave the fast paced riding for the local group rides or race season. When you are with someone special, get on a cruiser bike, or utility bike, throw on a light jacket and ride down to the local coffee shop together. If your area is fairly bike friendly, throw some lights on in the evening, and make a date of it. Leave the worries of how many watts you're burning and which kit to wear for some other night, and just enjoy rolling along at a pace that allows you to chat about the day, until you reach the destination.
Sometimes cycling is about giving it all you've got and reaching the challenges and goals you've set for yourself. But other times, it's all about the destination you are simply trying to get to.