What I Saw Taking the Road Less Traveled (by Me, That Is)

I made variety one of my watchwords for my 2012 biking, along with consistency and mindfulness. On my Wednesday ride I put all three to work, and thought I’d share a little ride report to show them in action.

Consistency: I went home from work Tuesday with a migraine (luckily pretty rare for me now—once much more common) and was still under the weather Wednesday. I swear migraines give me a hangover! It’s a sick headache feeling at the back of the skull, plus the headache kept trying to creep back.

Luckily I had almost no meetings Wednesday (also pretty rare) except for one at the end of the day. To stay consistent, and because I know cold fresh air does wonders for me, I rode from home to the meeting in downtown.

Variety: I varied my route both directions. Going downtown I took Rockwood Boulevard to Washington (woot for the rapid downhill!).

When I take that route to downtown usually I’d use Riverside to get to Post, my destination street. Instead I took Second Avenue. This was around 4 p.m. and, per my usual experience on Second, with its three wide-open westbound lanes, stoplights, and typical traffic load I had absolutely no problem keeping up with the flow of traffic—a point I make because of repeated assertions that Second wouldn’t work as a bike route.

Instead of turning north on Howard, with its bike lane, I went to Post. This did a couple of things: It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to take Sweet Hubs the carnivore out to dinner at Churchill’s Steakhouse (where I, the vegetarian, will eat a baked potato or their Cougar Gold mac ‘n cheese).

It also gave me a longer perspective on River Park Square, reminding me of what it felt like around 13 or so years ago to go to the grand opening and see that big glass façade at the end of Post. Usually I’m much closer to it, for example riding to or past it on Main, so this isn’t a view I see unless I look up or look from a different angle, which brings me to….

Mindfulness: I was right—I’m in a rut! I had to think about choosing a different route that would let me check out different traffic interactions and intersections and let me see with new eyes.

I remember years ago when I moved back to Spokane from Coeur d’Alene and was able to give up my long drive to/from work. One of the first days after moving I started to get on the freeway headed east toward Coeur d’Alene without even realizing it—just automatically got in that lane for that on-ramp instead of this direction for this destination. It happens on the bike too!

On the way home Wednesday night I (ahem) passed on the “opportunity” to change my usual route by climbing either Bernard or Cowley (heart attack hills, both of ’em).

Variety meant turning south one block before the intersection of Fifth and Sherman, a four-way stop on my usual route home.

Instead I climbed a block on Grant to Hartson, then took it to Sherman. The advantage of this route is that if the traffic backs up at the four-way stop I can skip all that and get straight into the bike lane that starts just south of that intersection.

I do like gaming the system at the stop, though—seeing if I can s-l-o-w-l-y keep pedaling up the hill as cars take their turns and never actually stop and put a foot to the ground before it’s my turn to take the right turn up the hill.

At any rate, I’m glad I consciously adopted some goals for my riding, both in terms of days/miles and in terms of how I approach my riding. I’ve never done this before—it will be interesting to see how it goes over the course of the year.

Ride Report

  • Days ridden in 2012 (as of Wednesday, Jan. 11): 9 of 11 days (goal is 250 days)
  • Miles: 57.17 miles. My goal is 1,200, which is only 100 miles a month. It already feels as if I set the target a bit low, but that’s okay–management of expectations, right?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What routes and turns do you find yourself making without thinking about it? (just like a driver)
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