It seems like you always have to be somewhere, doesn’t it?

When you ride to and from work, you usually have both a set destination and a deadline. Don’t get me wrong; as far as I’m concerned, any day that you both start and end on a bike isn’t a bad day. But where’s the fun?

Riding home, you might have a little more leeway. Maybe you’ll plug in a different route on your GPS, or maybe you’ll just use your knowledge of local roads to experimentally plot a new way home. If you can make yourself leave for work a little early, you might be able to try a different way there, too. But the end result in both cases is still a (mostly) known quantity.

Let Me Repeat: Where’s The Fun?

I don’t know about you, but finding new roads and learning how things connect (and where roads change name or direction), then filing it away inside your mental atlas of your local area is exhilarating in a way that looking at something on Google Earth just can’t match.

You can’t do this all the time, of course. (Stupid life, interfering with your fun.) But when you do have some free hours, why not give yourself permission to explore? Just start in a certain direction that you’ve always been curious about and see what the roads look like.

If it’s all too overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:

  • Rivers/lakes/oceans/potentially scenic bodies of water
  • National parks
  • Forested/heavily wooded areas
  • Cool bridges
  • Interesting trees/foliage/plant life
  • Spots where interesting birds/wildlife are known to hang out (not suicidal deer)

Try some roads you haven’t used before and ride past something beautiful. Maybe even stop and take some pictures, or clip on your action cam (if you have one) and get some great video of your ride.

What Did I Miss?

My daily commute used to see me riding down Lake Shore Drive twice a day, every day. Luckily, my start time in those days was quite early, so I didn’t have a lot of traffic to deal with on my ride in, and I often got to watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. Although I don’t miss the length of that commute, I definitely miss that stretch of it.

There are a million places I could have gone from there, but I generally only went two (or three, when I was going to school and working at the same time). Maybe I’d stop at the grocery store, or run some other errand that needed doing, but that was the bulk of my riding.

Sadly, we all miss so much every day by only ever sticking those two wheels in the same rut. It’s like you’re on a slot-car track, and you can’t go anywhere other than where the slots are mapped to take you. We all have responsibilities and families and people we care about, but your whole life shouldn’t be like that. 

Just get out and go for a day, or at least a morning or afternoon. Ride wherever your whims take you, then turn around or use your GPS to find yourself and plot a course back. There’s only one today. Don’t waste it.