I live a fair way out of town and there are many advantages to rockin’ the suburbs; it’s cheaper, quieter, easier to escape to the empty roads and lumpy trails without plodding through eternal tedium streets, and I have a garden in which to clean the bike. Plus a shed for parts and spare tyres, two sheds actually. Priorities.
The downside to my lengthy postcode is that it’s always a ride to get to the start of the group ride, and then a ride back. At best it’s nearly another ten miles or so added to the ride if the meet point is right in the middle of town, which it often is. But if I go on one of my regular rides with my friend who lives on the other side of the hill it’s close on 20 miles there and back, and that’s if I go the quick way.
It always is the quickest way there. As the one who lives the furthest away from the start it’s a breathy effort and a sprint to get there on time. I’ve done this enough times to know how long it will take to reach any of the usual rendezvous points to within seconds, no matter which bike I’m on or which way the wind is blowing, although I don’t know why I care to take the trouble as I always end up waiting for those who live just round the corner from the start to get round to turning up. Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. Or lonely.
If I’m being positive it’s a good way to warm up nicely for the ride, and then a warm down at the other end, a necessary and welcome decompress from the dynamic of a group ride. The reality of the ride home is that it can often be a no-one-can-see- now solo empty-legged wibble, into a headwind, just as the rain kicks in, and darkness drops. Sometimes that falter appears halfway into a masochistic this’ll-do-me-good-later one-more-hill pretty way back home. Self-imposed idiocy, definite muttered swearing, possible tears.
Then there have been times when a ride is organised all the way over there and it’s been considered a fun thing to do to pedal all the way over there, do the ride and then pedal all the way back, make a nice day of it, when just riding there would be considered by many to be a ride in itself. There have also been times whether by accident, design or a poor understanding of logistics that an unexpected Long Way Home has had to be faced up to. Deep breath, clip in, head down, pedal. These times have ended about as well as you might have imagined. Shouted swearing, actual tears.
It may not actually be that far but all of this commuting to and from the ride over the years has sneakily added up. Secret miles. Ninja benefits. It’s not the bike rides that keep me fit, it’s the ride to the ride.