Familiar Rides

The Fat Cyclist loves his favorite ride so much, he might be willing to part with his left pinkie rather than never be able to ride it again. His point is that he really likes familiar rides. Then he asks:

is this gravitation toward the familiar a sign (ie, yet another sign) that I’m getting old? That I’m set in my ways and uninterested in trying something new?

Or am I normal (at least in that regard)? Do all cyclists gravitate to the familiar?

My guess is, yes, cyclists gravitate toward the familiar.

And a lot of it might be caused by people being set in their ways. I know around here, some of the rides people do every week are really lousy rides. One in particular (Highway 175 to 5 to Keatchie) is truly awful; 20 miles of bad pavement and lots of large trucks. There’s other ways to go, but they always go that way. Why? I think, like the frog in the pot of water who just sits their as the temperature rises and it boils him to death, they have been riding these roads so long they just do not notice how bad it has gotten over the years. That is being stuck in your ways.

Still, there’s other reasons cyclists stick to what they know. Some are for safety. If I tell my wife I’m going to do a particular loop, she knows the basic area to come looking for me if I’m not home in a few hours. Some routes might be the only way to go. I think the biggest reason, though, is to avoid having to think about the route. On the mountain bike, for instance, I never really enjoy a trail until I’ve ridden it at least three times. I need that long to figure out the best loops, and to have a basic idea of what to expect when on the trail. Before then, I’m constantly stopping and starting as I approach intersections and obstacles. After that point, I can let it go. The whole experience is more about riding and less about thinking. It’s the same on the road. I like to explore new areas, but having to stop and check a map to figure out where the next turn is, or to double check you made the correct turn last time, takes away from the flow of the ride. It can also be stressful when you’re 50 miles from home and aren’t sure if you made a wrong turn or not.

In other words, I don’t think preferring the familiar on a bike necessarily means you’re old. It could just be you want to concentrate more on riding than navigating.

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One Comment on “Familiar Rides”

  1. draftsonyou Says:

    The best case scenario is going with a buddy (or a group of buddies) who knows a new route. That way you don’t have to pay attention to a map, but you get to experience something new in a stress-free way. Locally, there are at least 3 regularly recurring weekend rides, and several weekday rides, but the local “club” will post a different ride every saturday for those interested in some adventure. There must be a dozen or so in the bank to alternate without actually inventing something new. The only drawback is that, in order to continually ride different routes, you have to drive away from home. Riding to the rides is almost impossible unless you do the usual. To me, familiar routes are familiar b/c they are low hassle.

    The last “club” ride I went on, I ended up with a group of about 5 guys going really fast and when we finally stopped at an intersection, everyone just looked at each other in confusion. Finally, I pulled out the map I had grabbed from one of the organizers at the ride start, and I was bummed that I had to do that. Then, after dropping the “navigation ball” and inadvertently extending a 60 miler to a 75 miler, someone else admits that they had a map too. I had to share my food, and finished with only one other guy (the others caught rides home). Not at all familiar, but I’d do it again.


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