An adventure in every ride*
*if you want one…
Following on from Jake’s adventure through rural Victoria, I was thinking about how we can bring the adventures a little closer to home and have them on a somewhat more regular basis.
Last Monday (I have time to ride on Monday’s) I was fortunate enough to get out into an area of the Adelaide Hills that I had not previously been to, but which is only minutes away from where I ride quite often. That’s one of the fantastic things about Adelaide: that there is always somewhere new to explore by bike without needing to go very far at all, such is the vast network of roads and trails that we have here. That’s also why gravel riding is so increasingly popular. Roadies have pavement, mountain bikers have trail, but gravel is accessible by all and with a tiny fraction of the traffic (conversely, a decent cross-bike will allow you to ride near-enough anything, plus be a great commuter).
Anyway, I have recently put 28c tyres on my roadie, which I recommend heartily if you get more joy out of the journey than the sprint finish, and which do the job of dealing with most gravel roads quite well enough. The route on Monday presented me with both the limits of a roadie on 28c road tyres and my skill, but neither of which slowing down a bit couldn’t solve for.
So while heading out into the bush for 5 days with nothing but what you can carry on your back (or bike) is definitely an adventure, so can heading out into the surrounding area for 6 hours with nothing but what you can fit in your jersey pockets. I definitely recognize that not everyone lives in a place where 30 minutes on a bike gets them into scenic and rolling terrain that continues for miles on end, but then there are other adventures out there waiting to happen.
Because, you see, adventure is a mindset.
While heading out into the surrounding are for 6 hours with nothing but what you can fit in your jersey pockets can definitely be an adventure, so can heading out into the surrounding neighborhood for a few extra minutes on your way home from (or even to, if you plan for it) work.
What I’m saying is that you can plan to have an adventure anytime and anywhere you want, as long as you plan for it, and by plan for it, I mean want to. Because that’s all there is to it. A desire to explore. See what’s down that street you haven’t been down before. It’s what is behind the idea of rides like the Boucle de Burbs and the Melburn Roobaix. “You know this place that we have lived in for years? Yeah, let’s really explore it!” Even if you already get around by bike, we get stuck in routine because we live busy lives and so we often take the most direct route and just want to arrive as soon as possible. Even on recreational rides, we tend to stick to what is familiar. If we leave a few extra minutes to breathe, to look around, and to maybe try a new road now and then, we might find that there is more to the place where we live than we thought. Curiously, this only really works on a bike.
Unless you are actually racing (which is dumb unless you’ve got a closed circuit at your disposal), or it’s an 1000km drive with good mates, the car journey is merely how you get yourself to wherever it is you will be having your adventure, not the adventure itself. You pass things too fast when driving, and even if you do see something cool, it’s like seeing it on TV – viewing it from behind glass and framed by metal and plastic, you’re not present in the moment like you are on a bike or on foot. And walking is great and all, but unless you have driven somewhere new and then walk (which is fine), you can’t easily cover enough ground to see something that you haven’t already walked past before. It’s too slow for spontaneous adventures of discovery in many cases.
So if you have a bike, and you have the inclination, you then have the perfect recipe for adventure. Ditch the car, ride the bike, and then when you have time, ride through a new neighborhood or park and really have a look at all of the interesting things your city has to show you. They’re there, you just have to look. If you have more time, ride further. Past the city limits and back into nature, while we’ve still got some.
Now, I’ve been thinking about this on my last couple of rides home from work, and I must say, I’ve really just wanted to get home. It wasn’t adventure time for this guy. That is to say, I’m not suggesting that you should feel like taking the long way home every day, or even most days, and that if you aren’t bubbling over with an adventurous spirit all of the time that you aren’t quite right. But – for the days where you have both the time and the energy and it’s not cold and/or pissing down with rain, those are the days where you could look at your surroundings with new eyes by simply asking yourself, “I wonder what’s over that way?” I think it has to be at least 95% of the time that when these rides start with less than ample enthusiasm, they end with me being super glad I made the effort. What’s the worst that can happen? You get to ride your bike a bit further and gain a better knowledge of the roads between home and wherever else?
So chalk another one up for bikes. All of the advantages of walking but at 5-10 times the speed, they are the perfect weapon for slaying adventure whenever the mood strikes. You don’t have to be bored ever again. Just go ride your bike somewhere new. You might just stumble on something you had no idea was there, but was definitely worth stumbling upon…
All images: The Sticky Bidon