Friday, May 18, 2012

"Pavement Ends" is NOT the Worst Sign....

I've written here a couple of times about the dangers of creating bicycling routes on the computer, particularly in a place you don't know well. I got burned in Mississippi at least twice because I mapped out a perfectly acceptable route on the computer and then came to dirt roads. I've tried several tactics when this happens: go past the road and take the next one that goes in that direction, backtrack to a better road, try to "tough" it out on the dirt road. That last one is the least acceptable of all of them. You just can't ride on dirt roads with skinny tires.

The past few times I've ridden my bike home from school, I've ridden in the opposite direction first, making it a rather convoluted route home. That's okay; I like adding extra mileage. This past Wednesday I took that direction, and today I wanted to do the same thing but add a few additional miles. The roads are lightly traveled, the scenery is soul-soothing, and the hills aren't of the killer variety. So I got on the computer at school today and mapped out the same route, but with a little extra loop. I THOUGHT I knew enough about the area to be familiar with the roads involved.

Everything went according to plan, and one of the roads was newly paved. Riding on brand new asphalt is what it must feel like to ride on silk (if one could do such a thing). Then it even did me the favor of going downhill, and I was loving life.

Just when I was hitting maximum speed, I realized there was a sign at the bottom of the hill. I didn't want to believe it, but it clearly said, "Road Closed Ahead." I had to make a split-second decision: either turn around and go BACK UP THE HILL or turn right onto a sort-of paved road that looked like it led straight into Deliverance.

I chose the Deliverance route, because I almost never backtrack, and it turned out okay. It added about 3 miles more than I expected to the ride home, so my total mileage was 31 miles.

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would VOLUNTARILY make the trip home on a Friday afternoon into a two-hour bike ride, I would have scoffed. Loudly and longly.

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