Take The Long Way Home

Last night, I was supposed to meet up with a friend for a beer. I’d had a long day, followed by a game of hockey. I had a quick turnaround at home, and hopped on my bike to head downtown.

First revelation: I can now get downtown wearing street clothes and not look like I just ran a marathon.

This said, my pace was off what I normally ride, but I left plenty early and allowed for all the hills along the way.

Once I got there, I checked my phone and discovered that my friend had to jam out due to unexpected family business. No problem, I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of me having a couple of very hipsterish glasses of beer (one being called “Hot Trub Time Machine” and the other being “Junk Punch IPA”). The soundtrack at this particular establishment was very fine, too, and I found myself being quite inspired by what I was hearing.

After settling up, I got my gear back on and started off for home. Had a brief chat with another cyclist in the bike box just before the Johnson Street Bridge, and then proceeded across my favourite metal-decked span.

Normally, I go up to Tyee Rd and along through Vic West to my house, but this time around, I opted for Harbour Rd. For starters, it was quieter, a little darker, and I was really able to enjoy the scenery as I was pedalling through the night.

When I got to the path to the Galloping Goose, though, I decided to take a little detour. Nobody waiting for me at home tonight, and nowhere else to be, I just started pedalling. I found it exhilarating to be on a night ride, taking paths and roads I wouldn’t normally take. Realistically, it might have only been a two- or three-kilometre detour, but I found myself laughing and experiencing moments of true joy as I rode my way home.

My friend Derek, who lives in Toronto, uses their bike share system and he got me thinking again about bike shares and rentals. One thing I started doing through the last number of tours I’ve been on has been to find a way to either bring a bike or rent a bike when in different cities. I really started in earnest in Ypres this past summer, when, faced with a half day to myself before hitting the road, I rented a bike and started pedalling through the countryside. Before I knew it, I’d gone for a couple of hours, just wheeling my way through all the scenery. In Amsterdam, I rented a bike for the days I was there, and found myself able to cover so much more ground, and experiencing that city the way a lot of locals do. In Paris, same deal – their bike share system is very robust, and I covered a ton of ground for 8 Euros for the time I was there. Later on, when I was in Toronto, I used their bike share system during breaks in the schedule to ride from Air Canada Centre back to the hotel for naps, or to go to the last Jays home game. All of this on two wheels.

It goes back to that sense of freedom I spoke of in an earlier post. So much opportunity presents itself when you’re on a bike. My youngest definitely gets it, and my eldest is starting to now, as well (he’s been borrowing my bike to go on photography expeditions).

All that to say, just get out there. Ride. Figure out how to buy your groceries on a bike. Go see some stuff. Go to friends’ houses just like you used to when you were a kid. Just go.

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