Discovering a new road is a little treat. It sets back the clock and reminds me of the freedom I felt when I was a child, discovering new neighborhoods as some great explorer. The world of a child is such that a few miles are an entirely different world. A new universe, three street lights away.
We were the early adventurers, trudging blindly into the storm. Guided by inspiration and inhibited only by what time our parents got home.
As I grow older, it is so much harder to recreate this. In fact, I often forget how important that feeling is. Stuck in one place too long I suspect. The same routes repeated, and the natural routines of my life slowing smothering my sense of adventure. It’s the way of things. I understand it, but fuck you if you think that I’ll just accept it.
Last week I took the time and spent a few hours on Google Maps, looking at street view images from three years ago and desperately trying to connect the dots. I was hoping to construct the perfect loop. A solo 70 miles on new roads.
Lay out your kit and fill an extra bottle. Cross your fingers that the sketchy section isn’t really that bad, and pack handwritten directions in a Ziploc bag. On adventures such as this, Garmin’s can’t always be trusted.
It’s strange that some roads emote, and that turning onto them you can pick up on their mood. These Texas Hill Country Highways are just happy to be used. They're pleased that they can take part in my day, and glad to see a cyclist. Bikes travel at the speed of real life. Cars seem to break that rule, traveling at a speed that outpaces emotion.
Up and down over rollers in the heat, crossing the San Gabriel River a few times. Dropping down and then climbing back out of these small valleys. It was a pleasant silence, punctuated only by the odd crossing of deer and rabbits, the sound of my drivetrain as I traveled along.
Seeing salt rings on my jersey and getting goosebumps in the heat is never a good sign. 97 degrees and I ran out of water twice. I was so close to utter destruction and had to stop at the burger stand by my house on the way in, talking to myself the entire time. Suffering, yet somehow enjoying it.
I limped back the last mile holding a combo #1 in my jersey like some overweight domestique. Crawled up the stairs to my tiny apartment and ate on the floor, not wanting to get my furniture full of sweat. Exhausted, fulfilled, and thinking that I got away with something.